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.

Game 40: Follow Up

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Yankees got a stellar performance out of Andy Pettitte last night, so stellar that it masked the stench of the offense’s complete inability to cash in on numerous opportunities with men on base. A pair of late homers stretched the lead a bit, but the game was a lot closer than the 4-0 score would indicate. Ivan Nova has been struggling this season and he’s back on the mound this afternoon after suffering a right foot contusion and a right ankle sprain his last time out. The Yankees need him to follow up Andy’s performance with a strong start of his own while the lineup tries to figure their issues out. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Raul Ibanez
1B Nick Swisher
Russell Martin
LF Dewayne Wise
2B Jayson Nix

RHP Ivan Nova

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

Mark Teixeira Update: Before the game, Joe Girardi said there’s a chance he’ll give Teixeira tomorrow off as well as they try to get rid of this lingering cough/revive his bat.

2012 Draft: Slot values for top ten rounds

The amateur draft is a little more than three weeks away right now, and we know the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has imposed strict spending restrictions that figure to change the way clubs operate. The Yankees have been allotted $4,192,200 for their eleven picks in the top ten rounds, including $1.6M for their first rounder (#30 overall). Any money in excess of $100k given to a player drafted after the tenth round counts against the draft pool as well.

The penalties for exceeding the draft pool are pretty harsh, including a tax on the overage and forfeiture of future picks. They really don’t want teams spending on amateurs, it seems. Baseball America recently published a list of slot values for the top ten rounds of the draft, which breaks down like so for the Yankees…

Round Pick Slot
1 30 $1,600,000
2 89 $548,400 for 2011 unsigned 2nd rounder, LHP Sam Stafford
2 94 $507,800
3 124 $378,000
4 157 $275,000
5 187 $205,900
6 217 $154,400
7 247 $141,000
8 277 $131,700
9 307 $125,000
10 337 $125,000

If a team does not sign a player, they can not use that pick’s money elsewhere. So the Yankees won’t be able to just not sign say, their fifth rounder and use that $205,900 on other players. They can game the system a little but, most notably by selecting some low-cost college seniors — they usually sign for bonuses in the $1k-$20k range — and using the savings elsewhere. If they take college seniors with their ninth and tenth rounders and pay them $25k each, they’ll have an extra $200k to spend on other players. The Yankees can also exceed their draft pool by $209,610 (5%) before the penalties kid in.

The slot values themselves are not low at all, in fact they’re actually larger than recent years (at least for the first few rounds). The problem is the restrictions and penalties; the inability to exceed slot for one player without having to skimp elsewhere. It stinks, but that’s the system they decided to put in place.

Pettitte carries Yanks to win over Reds


Source: FanGraphs

Friday night’s game against the Reds was kinda sorta like those last three games against the Blue Jays and Orioles … except the Yankees won! It’s a mid-May miracle. Let’s recap…

  • Just Dandy: So, remember when we were all nervous about Andy Pettitte not being effective after his year-long hiatus? Yeah, forget that. Pettitte was masterful on Friday, carving up the Cincinnati hitters with every pitch in the book. He threw 115 pitches (78 strikes, 67.8%), struck out nine, walked one, and allowed just four singles. Andy was locating everything on the corners and burying his offspeed stuff in the dirt. With a Game Score of 82, this was Pettitte’s best start since May 2006 with the Astros. Holy crap.
  • A-Run: The Yankees went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position but they did get a man home from third base with less than two outs on Alex Rodriguez‘s ground ball to short. It’s a start, I guess. They didn’t cash in on a similar chance in the second inning and amazingly turned a bases loaded, no outs situation into zero runs in the sixth. In fairness, replays showed that Derek Jeter was incorrectly called out at home on a force play even though the catcher’s foot didn’t touch the plate. Still, they were terrible in these spots yet again.
  • Homers Cure All: With a 1-0 lead through going into the eighth, this one was set up perfectly for disappointment. Some reliever, probably Rafael Soriano, would blow the lead and waste Pettitte’s effort because the offense didn’t do a damn thing. Instead, the Yankees tacked on a trio of insurance runs in the only way they know: with the long ball. Robinson Cano crushed a solo shot off Balki Arroyo about halfway up the right field bleachers before Raul Ibanez chipped in a two-run shot to right. Seriously, it was a huge sigh of relief once Ibanez put it out of reach.
  • Leftovers: Boone Logan has been insanely good of late and he continued the trend with a scoreless ninth … Yankees pitchers managed to strike out Joey Votto three times (Pettitte twice and Logan once), only the 22nd three-strikeout game of his career (655 games) … the 8-9-1 hitters (Dewayne Wise, Chris Stewart, Jeter) saw a total of 18 pitches in ten plate appearances, which is gross … Stewart threw out Drew Stubbs trying to steal second in the sixth and I swear it was one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen; it was gorgeous.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. These same two teams will play again on Saturday afternoon, when Ivan Nova will make his first start since suffering injuries to his right foot and ankle in Baltimore five days ago. If something happens and he can’t go, it’ll be either Freddy Garcia or David Phelps. Homer Bailey will be on the bump for the Reds.

O’Brien stellar in Double-A debut

RHP Cory Arbiso was placed on the DL with a mid-back strain.

Triple-A Scranton (9-8 win over Toledo)
2B Kevin Russo: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
RF-CF Colin Curtis: 3-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB, 1 CS — seven hits in his last 13 at-bats (.538)
1B Steve Pearce: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 K — fourth homer in his last ten games
DH Jack Cust: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 HBP
3B Brandon Laird: 1-3, 2 BB — six hits in his last 18 at-bats (.333)
C Frankie Cervelli: 1-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB — helluva game, but he also bounced into a 5-4-3 triple play
SS Ramiro Pena: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB
CF Ray Kruml: 1-1, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — not sure why he was lifted in the fifth
PH-RF Cole Garner: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
LHP Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 Balk, 1 HB, 3/4 GB/FB — 56 of 94 pitches were strikes (59.6%) … first dud since coming off the DL
RHP Nelson Figueroa: 3 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 31 of 51 pitches were strikes (60.8%)
LHP Justin Thomas: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 19 pitches were strikes (63.2%)
RHP Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — seven of 17 pitches were strikes … loaded the bases with no one out, but then got a strikeout and a double play to escape

[Read more…]

Game 39: Interleague

Do you watch much NL baseball? It’s weird, it’s like a parallel baseball universe where games are less competitive and players like Adam Kennedy bat fifth for a first place team. Less competitive probably isn’t the right way to put it, but the games are definitely different. Spend a week watching Senior Circuit baseball and you’ll have a new appreciation for just how devastating AL East baseball is. The lineups are relentless, the pitchers are so powerful, the rosters are so fine-tuned so everyone on the 25-man roster has a specific role. The NL is just … different.

Welcome to the first series of 2012 Interleague Play. Here’s the lineup…

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

LHP Andy Pettitte

Tonight’s game will start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on My9 locally and MLB Network nationally. enjoy.