Game 49: Back on Track

"How about eight scoreless and a hit with the bases loaded tonight, Andy?" (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

The Yankees lost a game last night in which they scored eight runs on the other team needed a full 27 outs from its bullpen. Phil Hughes simply didn’t do his job as the starting pitcher and now the Yankees are looking to Andy Pettitte to stop the losing skid at one. He’s exceeded all possible expectations so far, though he has yet to leave the confines of Yankee Stadium. This is Andy’s first road start of the season, and it comes against a team that’s won seven straight. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Nick Swisher
3B Eric Chavez
Russell Martin

LHP Andy Pettitte

Tonight’s game starts a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Brett Gardner took more dry swings in Tampa today and again reported no problems with his strained right elbow. He could hit off a tee as soon as tomorrow … David Robertson played catch again and made 50 throws from flat ground. He came through with flying colors, no problem with his strained left oblique.

2012 Draft: Ty Moore

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

(Luis Sinco/The LA Times)

Ty Moore | OF

A Southern California kid from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Moore stole the show at the National High School Invitational in North Carolina this spring. He has a strong commitment to UCLA.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 lbs., Moore isn’t a bat-first prospect. He’s a bat-only prospect. Despite an unorthodox setup and swing — he waggles the bat and uses an extreme toe-tap — Moore consistently squares the ball up from the left side and his best tool is his above average power. He’s relegated to left field because he’s not fleet of foot and doesn’t control the arm strength that allows him to pitch in the low-80s. Moore draws rave reviews for his makeup and all-out style of play, and he’s developed a reputation for being a big game player thanks in part to his excellent showings against top competition in showcase events.

Up Next
Even though he can hit, Moore is expected to be drafted somewhere in the 6th-8th round because he doesn’t provide any defensive value. The unorthodox hitting mechanics are another negative, at least in the sense that “it looks different and therefore must be bad.” You want late round picks to be able to do at least one thing well and he does just take with the bat. With slot money after the fifth round in the sub-$200k range, there’s a strong likelihood that Moore will end up in school next spring. If the Yankees decide to save some draft pool money by taking a few college seniors in the 9th or 10th round, someone like Moore would be an excellent place to reallocate the funds.

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Quit complainin'. (REUTERS/Alex Gallardo)

Only two more late-night West Coast games before the Yankees get back to playing at normal times. There’s nothing worse than staying up late for a game only to watch them lose, especially in walk-off fashion like last night. Tonight’s game doesn’t start until 10pm ET, so hang out here until the regular game thread comes along in a few hours. The Mets are playing the Phillies (Blanton vs. Hefner) and ESPN is airing the Tigers at the Reds Sox (Verlander vs. Bard). There’s also some NBA playoff action going on a little later. Talk about whatever, go nuts.

2012 Draft: Keith Law’s Mock Draft v2.0

In his latest mock draft (Insider req’d), Keith Law still has the Astros taking Stanford RHP Mark Appel with the first overall pick in next Monday’s draft. He has the Yankees taking Las Vegas prep 3B Joey Gallo with their first rounder (#30 overall), arguably the best power hitter in the draft. Gallo does swing and miss a bunch and he’s likely to wind up at first base down the line.

Law also says the Yankees are focused on a number of other high schoolers, specifically RHP Duane Underwood, RHP J.O. Berrios, OF/RHP Mitch Gueller, and OF D.J. Davis. He throws hard-hitting and hard-throwing Cal Poly OF Mitch Haniger into the mix as well. Law had the Yankees taking high school SS Addison Russell in his first mock draft but has him slipping out of the first round this time around. Here are my write-ups on Underwood, Gueller, Davis, and Russell.

Mark Teixeira’s Kansas City Turnaround

This baseball has left the yard. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If anyone needed a hot start to the year, it was Mark Teixeira. After coming off a second straight season in which he fell short of expectations, everyone was expecting more. Yet Teixeira turned in yet another dismal April performance, hitting .244/.290/.395. Of course, when looking at Teixeira, April is hardly an indicator of things to come.

Last season Teixeira had the best April of his career, hitting .256/.392/.549, but we all saw how that ended. From May through September he hit .247/.332/.485, ending with a 119 OPS+ — his worst mark since his rookie season. In 2010 he got off to the worst April of his career, hitting .136/.300/.259, but hit .275/.376/.515 from May through September to finish the season with a 124 OPS+. He also started slowly in 2007, hitting .231/.346/.341, but ended the season with a 149 OPS+, which was the best of his career at that point (and is still the second best of his career).

What stood out about Teixeira’s April 2012 was his lack of walks and his lack of power. His ISO of .151 wasn’t the worst April of his career power-wise, but it ranks down there. More startling was his walk rate, just 5.4 percent, by far and wide the lowest rate of his career in April. Yet he’s turned things around on both fronts. And it all seemed to come together during the Kansas City series.

Click for larger image

As you can see, both his walk rate and his extra base hit rate (XBH/AB) took a nosedive early on, recovering around the same time. The XBH% stopped diving in Game 24, the first game against Kansas City, when he doubled. Three games later he drew two walks, ending the walk rate nose dive. Since then everything has trended upward, and he’s hitting .333/.425/.683 in 73 PA since they left Kansas City.

There’s another Kansas City connection, too. Teixeira sat during the Cincinnati series on the weekend of May 19th, to help alleviate the cough that has pestered him all season. Kansas City came to town right after Cincinnati, and Teixeira was back in the starting lineup. Since then he’s gone 12 for 25 with four doubles, four homers, and six walks. It’s a small stretch to be sure, but clearly something has changed with Teixeira. He’s gradually improving, and his numbers are starting to round into form.

The last two seasons have been tough for Teixeira, especially since they weren’t quite expected. When the Yankees signed him he was a proven producer who was right in the middle of his prime. Not only did he own a 134 OPS+, but he had just averaged a 150 OPS+ in his previous two seasons. A career .290/.378/.541 hitter who played a slick first base, he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would drop off a cliff. He’s since admitted his issues, which is the first step to recovery. If this really is Teixeira’s hard work finally coming to fruition, the Yankees will have added a weapon that they mostly missed the last two years. For a team struggling to bring home runners on base, that could make a huge difference for the next 114 games.

Yankees claim Ryota Igarashi off waivers from Blue Jays

Via Dan Barbarisi, the Yankees have claimed right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi off waivers from the Blue Jays. He’s been optioned to Triple-A Empire State and Brad Meyers was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Igarashi, 33, owns a 6.17 ERA and a 4.42 FIP in 70 big league innings with the Mets and Blue Jays. He can strike guys out with a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s splitter (8.87 K/9 and 20.6 K%), but he’s also walk prone (6.17 BB/9 and 14.3 BB%). Seems like a move designed to add a little up-and-down bullpen depth due to David Robertson‘s injury.

2012 Draft: Nick Wittgren

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

Nick Wittgren | RHP

Wittgren was raised in Lafayette, Indiana and attended Parkland Community College (Illinois) for one year before transferring to Purdue. He was a shortstop in high school and didn’t begin pitching full-time until arriving at Parkland.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 lbs., Wittgren is a career reliever and owns an 88/19 K/BB with 21 saves in 84 innings for the Boilermakers over the last two springs. Although his fastball only sits at 89-91 and touches 93 on most days, the pitch plays up and generates swings and misses because of the deception in his delivery. His power curveball in the upper-70s/low-80s gives Wittgren a legitimate put-away offering. He throws both pitches for strikes despite his relative inexperience.

Considered a 7th-10th round type of talent, Wittgren starred on the Cape Cod League last summer is exactly the type of prospect the Yankees usually target in the later rounds — a strike-throwing reliever with two good pitches and a track record of success. Slot money for the post-fifth round is under $160k and that won’t net you any future stars, but it’s a solid investment for a potentially quick-moving bullpen arm. The expected return on a pick that late is basically zero anyway.