Phelps strong in SWB win

Penn League Report previewed the short season Staten Island Yankees today, so check it out. In case you missed it, here’s a little something on the defensively development of Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Indianapolis)
Austin Krum, LF, Justin Maxwell, CF & Brandon Laird, 3B: all 1 for 3 – Krum walked and whiffed … Maxwell swiped a bag and scored a run … Laird struck out
Ramiro Pena, SS: 1 for 4, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 K – he also hit a foul ball into a garbage bag that was being carried by an usher with his back to the play … they should call him up just for that, that’s amazing
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 0 for 4, 3 K – back after missing two games with the hand injury
Kevin Russo, 2B & Gus Molina, DH: both 0 for 3 – Russo drove in and scored a run
Dan Brewer, RF: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K
David Phelps, RHP: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 9-1 GB/FB – 58 of 94 pitches were strikes (61.7%) … picked a runner off first … nice rebound after an ugly start last time around
Randy Flores, LHP: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1-1 GB/FB – needed just two pitches to get out his two lefties
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – six of his nine pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Feliciano will begin throwing program June 1st

Via Brian Costello, forgotten lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano will begin a throwing program on June 1st as he attempts to rehab his torn shoulder capsule. “It’s been tough,” said Feliciano. “I like to be out there every day. I like when the phone rings to hear my name. Now, I have to just wait. It’s hard.” No word on how long said program will last, but I assure you this is not a two week thing. Whatever the Yankees’ get out of Pedro this year is gravy, you have to expect nothing with an injury like this.

Rafael Soriano, meanwhile, will throw off a mound at some point before the end of this homestand. He’s been playing catch regularly, but he’s going to need some bullpen sessions and a minor league rehab appearance or two before rejoining the team.

Murphy improving behind the plate, Sanchez not so much

J.J Cooper had a little something about Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy today, writing about their defense behind the plate. You need a Baseball America subscription to read the whole article, but the important thing is that Sanchez’s struggles (league leading 13 passed balls in just 19 games at catcher) seem to have more to do with focus than physical tools. “He often will block a difficult breaking ball in the dirt, then clank a well-placed fastball on the corner off his mitt that rolls to the backstop,” says Cooper, who also spoke to a scout that said Sanchez has “bad form” and stabs at the ball. Focus can be fixed, lacking the tools to catch can’t. Remember, the kid is still seven months away from his 19th birthday.

Murphy, on the other hand, has shown “significant improvement as a backstop” and “enough diligence and desire to catch [that] the organization gave him another shot.” The Yankees had him work out at third base and in the outfield during Instructional League last year, and he still plays there on occasion now. “Murphy has shown significant improvement in his receiving and his throwing, to the point where he is clearly more advanced on defense than Sanchez is right now,” says Cooper.

Game 46: The Jays, Again

And he flies! (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

We’ve already seen enough of the Blue Jays this year to know they’re a pesky little bunch. They have a knack for late-inning rallies, and I’m not just talking about that Mariano Rivera blown save a few weeks ago either. Toronto’s been doing that everyone this year, so they force you to play all nine innings. And, of course, they have Joey Bats. Here’s the lineup…

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

Bartolo Colon, SP

The game is scheduled to begin a little after 7:00pm ET, and it can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

New design added to the RAB Shop

Just a heads up, we’ve added a new design to the RAB Shop, this one about robot umpires. You might have missed our anti-bunting design since we didn’t promote it on the site, but check that one out as well. Remember, shirts are fully customizable (color, size, style, etc.), and there’s a whole range of accessories as well.

2011 Draft: Yanks “heavily in” on Dillon Howard & Brandon Martin

Via Frankie Piliere, the Yankees are “heavily in” on high schoolers Dillon Howard and Brandon Martin with the 51st overall pick, their first selection. Howard, a right-handed pitcher, is supposedly asking for big bucks according to Piliere. Keith Law and Baseball America ranked him the 18th and 30th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. Howard has a big arm, routinely running his fastball up to 94 with crazy sink this spring, and he also throws a changeup and a curveball.

Martin, meanwhile, is more of true sandwich round talent. He’ll flash all five tools, but he’s not likely to have anything more than average pop at his peak. A compact line-drive stroke geared for hard contact is Martin’s offensive calling card, and he’s also a very good athlete with good range and arm strength at the shortstop position. His footwork and positioning need work, but that’s what the minor leagues are for. He didn’t crack BA’s latest rankings, but KLaw had him 54th overall.

The Jerry Blevins Option

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Yankees have been without a second left-hander in the bullpen all season because of Pedro Feliciano’s torn shoulder capsule (and Damaso Marte‘s injury, but that was expected), though they recently picked up Randy Flores on a minor league contract. He’s made a handful of appearances for Triple-A Scranton and can opt out of his contract sometime before the All-Star break, but another lefty reliever hit the market this afternoon: Jerry Blevins.

The Athletics designated Blevins for assignment earlier today after 14.1 brutal innings. He walked as many batters as he struck out (13), and the 28 left-handed batters he faced tagged him for a .318/.429/.591 batting line this year. No way around it, that’s awful. But that’s also not the real Blevins. Prior to this season the 27-year-old held lefties to a .227/.270/.292 batting line with 54 strikeouts in exactly 200 plate appearances. Not a huge sample, but he showed a similar split in the minors and it’s a whole lot more meaningful than what he did this season.

The cause of Blevins’ problems this year seems to be his slider. He’s lost about six inches of horizontal break and an inch of vertical break from the pitch over the winter, so it’s basically flattened out. Batters went from whiffing on the pitch more than 10% of the time in the past to exactly zero percent of the time this year. As a result, he was using it just 6% of the time in 2011 as opposed to ~13% from 2009-2010. Maybe it’s just a mechanical problem, maybe he’s hurt, maybe this is the real Blevins, who knows.

With all due respect to Flores, Blevins is a much more promising LOOGY candidate given his age and recent history, this year notwithstanding. There’s zero chance he’ll clear or even get to the Yankees on waivers, so they’d have to trade for him. The Athletics devalued him with the DFA, so it shouldn’t cost a ton to acquire him. Given Boone Logan‘s poor overall performance against lefties (.323/.382/.484 in 35 PA), having a second option would be a nice luxury. That would also allow Hector Noesi to go back to the minors to actually, you know, pitch. That would leave Lance Pendleton as the long man, which is fine by me. Blevins’ numbers are ugly this year, but someone will gamble on that pre-2011 track record and I really hope it’s the Yankees.