With a newly named stadium opening in Queens and a new Metro-North stop opening the Bronx, the MTA is attempting rechristen one stop and name another. Over at Second Ave. Sagas today, I looked at how the MTA is not embracing the CitiField moniker and what the agency plans to call the Metro-North stop near Yankee Stadium. Check it out. · (10) ·
Long show today, but with good reason. We’ve got tons of listener questions that cover all the major points in the Yanks Spring Training. Mike and I discuss the pitching situation, which is looking great right now, CC Sabathia notwithstanding. Phil Hughes has looked great in the two starts he’s been on TV, A.J. Burnett is hitting high 90s on the gun, and Joba Chamberlain broke out of an early-spring funk to record three quality innings on Tuesday.
There’s so much more, too. It seemed like every question not only led us down the intended path, but a tangential one, too. Lots of Yanks opinion and info to be sure — it’d be tough to talk about nothing for an hour and 10 minutes. We do spend a bit of time talking about recent free agent Esteban German and how he can provide the Yanks a better utility option then Berroa, Bernier, Pena, and Leone.
Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.
The Yanks locked up the rest of their pre-arbitration players recently, agreeing to one year deals with Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Jose Veras, Phil Coke, Edwar Ramirez and Brett Gardner. Joba will make $433,000 this year, and Hughes will pull down $407,605 ($213,218 in the minors). The Yanks use a sliding scale based on service time to determine these salaries, so it’s not like there’s some super secret underlying reason why Joba will be making $25,000 more than Hughes. About a week and a half ago they locked up ten other pre-arb players, so now everyone on the 40-man roster is under contract. (h/t My Baseball Bias) · (83) ·
Over the past two days I’ve been looking at how the Yanks’ minor league pitchers have performed over the last two years using Brett Sullivan’s Dominance Factor (here’s 2008 and 2007), and today I’m going to take it back to 2006. I’m sure you remember that DF is based on a pitcher’s strikeout, walk, and groundball rate, as well as age relative to level, but if not then there’s a little reminder.
If you were following the farm system back then, than I’m sure you’ll love reliving the glory days of 2006. It was the year Tyler Clippard threw the first (and only) no hitter in Trenton Thunder history, the year a Texas-born southpaw named Chase Wright was named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year, and the year that the tandem of JB Cox and TJ Beam formed the most dominant one-two bullpen punch in all of minor league baseball. But more than anything, 2006 was the year of Phil Hughes‘ coming out party.
It’s no surprise that St. Phil tops the 2006 list, his second half at Double-A Trenton was absolutely epic: 10.71 Kper9, 2.48 BBper9, 55% groundballs, .183 batting avg against and a 2.15 FIP all while being about two years too young for the league. His DF score of 80.80 in 2006 was far and away the best in the organization, and the only player within 17 points of him was … Phil Hughes at High-A Tampa. They might harp on your fastball and call you a bust Phil, but we’ll always have Trenton.
The table’s after the jump, and as always click for a larger view. It’s pretty amazing that only 13 of the 60 players listed are still with the organization at this very moment. So much turnover.
Spring Training is in full effect right now, so there’s plenty to talk about. If you have anything you want to hear Joe and I talk about during today’s radio show, then send one of us an email to either of us using the links to the right. Hopefully we actually get a few that aren’t about A-Rod. · (11) ·
Since his arrival in the Bronx in Feb. 2004, Alex Rodriguez has turned into the whipping boy for the New York media. Despite being the best Yankee hitter and one of the game’s top offensive threats over the last five seasons, nothing A-Rod does is good enough, and everything he does off the field is magnified to the nth degree.
Since the end of January, the so-called A-Rod problem has been a dominant feature of sports radio and the back pages on a near-daily basis. First, Joe Torre called him A-Fraud. Then, Selena Roberts reported the news of a failed PED test six years ago. Then, he admitted more than any other Major League player had since this drug scandal broke in 2003. Then, he had to undergo surgery for a torn labrum. The Yankees, said a lot of mediots, may even be better off without A-Rod.
Here at RAB, we’ve scoffed at that notion. Unless the Yankees plan on replacing A-Rod with the 1981 version of Mike Schmidt, the Yankees are always better off with Alex Rodriguez. That’s just a fact of baseball.
While most New York reporters are content to dump on A-Rod, one has had enough. Ken Davidoff, in an article Jonah Keri calls the best of 2009, takes everyone to task for this absurd hatred of Alex Rodriguez. He writes:
All right, world, you have your chance now. For the next six to nine weeks, you’ll get to see what life is like without Alex Rodriguez. You’ll view the mighty, regal Yankees, rid of their “albatross.” You’ll look at Mr. Perfect, Derek Jeter, liberated from the cumbersome task of playing alongside one of the greatest players in baseball history.
Based on what people have been saying out there, I’m betting the Yankees go 35-1 while A-Rod rehabilitates from arthroscopic surgery…
Somehow, the belief is now pervading that the Yankees will be better off without A-Rod: That he costs as much in anguish and headaches as he pays in home runs and walks.
I don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense on any level, and the only evidence used to back it up – that the Yankees haven’t reached a World Series since they acquired A-Rod – could also be deployed to prove that A-Rod’s a heck of a player, but he ain’t no Clay Bellinger.
Davidoff goes on to eviscerate those who think A-Rod is somehow a problem for the Yanks. He implicitly accuses his fellow brethren of sheer hypocrisy when he notes that A-Rod’s drug use puts him “in the majority of ballplayers from his era.” He slams Bud Selig, the architect of baseball’s image problem, for tsking A-Rod, and he wonders why anyone bothered to make much ado about nothing over A-Rod’s comments about Jose Reyes.
My favorite part though is the way Davidoff ends his column:
If the Yankees do struggle, however, if the new guys can’t live up to the expectations and the old guys can’t reach back for better days, then perhaps the haters will finally have their question answered. They’ll finally realize the old “Be careful what you wish for” axiom.
Nah. They’ll probably just hate A-Rod all the more for getting injured.
As tongue-in-cheek as that is, the sad truth is that Davidoff is right. If the Yanks do well, fans, commentators and Mike Francesca will say that the team doesn’t need A-Rod. If the Yanks struggle — if Joba, CC and A.J. can’t get the outs they should get, if Jorge isn’t healthy, if Jeter’s age shows — it will all be A-Rod’s fault for not doing something sooner. Welcome to the Bronx Zoo.
About a month ago my girlfriend showed me the trailer for the movie Sugar, and I’ve wanted to see it ever since. It’s about a young pitcher from the Dominican Republic who finally makes his way to the U.S. From the description and trailer, it sounds like this movie explores life beyond baseball a bit deeper than your typical hardball flick, which is why it interests me. Reading Jon Weisman’s write-up on the movie makes me want to see it even more.
It’s an independent release, and will hit select theaters in New York on April 3. Any interest in an RAB get-together? I’m not sure exactly which theaters will show it, but I’m sure there will be showings in Chelsea, LES, East Village, and other areas a bit further downtown. Email me if you’re down. If there are enough responses we’ll set it up. · (19) ·
He even guarantees he’s going to play in The Show. There is no other plan.
“I’ve always wanted to put on the pinstripes,” he says.
Of course the kid then goes on to say he loves Boston too, and that college would be a really cool experience as well. And I suppse he could be talking about Colorado Rockies pinstripes, but that seems unlikely. You can tell Harper’s a wunderkind, he’s got Boras-speak down despite only being a high school sophomore. This also gives me an excuse to post this:
My favorite quote of the piece was Harper saying: “I’d play anywhere, even Kansas City.” Hope that makes you feel good Royals fans, a 16 year old would be willing to play on your team if things didn’t work out with the other 29 clubs. Heh.
Anyway, here’s your open thread of the night. The Knicks and Nets are both in action tonight, but otherwise talk about whatever you like here. Just be nice.
Oh, last reminder to vote in this week’s Fan Confidence Poll.
Sometimes, you just get smacked around. That’s what happened to both CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander today. Verlander, upon whom Detroit is depending for a bounceback season, allowed four runs, two earned, in his two innings of work, walking four along the way. None of the hits were for extra bases, though — in fact, the Yankees didn’t have a single XBH the entire game. Girardi pulled Sabathia after 1.2 innings, in which he allowed five earned runs on six hits, a walk, and a Gary Sheffield home run. Worst of all, he didn’t strike out a single Tiger.
After the game, PeteAbe and the beat crew spoke to CC, who said he’s fine. Of course he’s going to say that. What do you expect immediately after the game? “My shoulder was barking the entire time.” Even if it was, CC certainly wouldn’t mention anything right after the game. He’d get it checked out before anyone said anything to the press. Not that I think there’s a problem. Just saying that if there were, the press wouldn’t have found out so soon without CC showing some obvious signals on the mound.
Pete Caldera notes that two of the singles off Sabathia were bloops, a good sign for sure. Also, it appears his slider/cutter wasn’t working. As we learned earlier this month, it takes him a while to find the groove on his cutter. It’s good that he was out there working on it, results be damned. We’ll see how his handle of the pitch progresses in his next start.
Following Sabathia, Aceves allowed two runs in 3.1 innings of work, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out one. The killer were his two home runs, both to Gerald Laird. You can bet Aceves will remember that if the two face off during the season. Brian Bruney pitched a perfect sixth, striking out two. Veras followed with an identical frame, and Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless, one-hit ninth. The zero walks from the last three guys is encouraging, though that can probably be attributed to Detroit’s scrubs filling the lineup. They’re not going to walk their way onto the roster.
As mentioned previously, the Yanks scored four runs on zero extra base hits, and didn’t manage any runs off the Tigers bullpen. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira each collected a pair of singles and a walk, Posada walked twice, Cody Ransom picked up another base hit (.346 BA so far this spring), and Kevin Cash knocked an RBI single. Nick Swisher left six men on base, about which he quipped:
“Give me some of those burritos. I need to feed that village of people I left on base.”
Not an inspiring day at the plate by any means, but the Yanks still mustered four runs in two innings off Verlander with singles and walks. The only stories of the day, really, were CC’s poor performance and Melky going hitless yet again (though he did walk once). Everything’s turning up Gardner these days.
Update: I’ve just been informed that Team Netherlands is playing on ESPN2 right now, so feel free to use this as a game thread for that. The regularly-scheduled open thread will hit at it’s normal 7 p.m. slot tonight.