Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a fun little article out today (or maybe it was yesterday, I forget) with 25 things you might not know about baseball this season. Yes, there’s the usual dose of Yankee hate, but there’s also plenty of cool and interesting pieces of info in there as well. I enjoyed it, so I’m passing it along. Check it out.
On twitter recently Stephen R. from TYU threw out a question about what you would give up for Colby Rasmus. It wasn’t considering team needs, salary, etc. but he wanted to know how Yankee fans valued their prospects vs. Rasmus. There were interesting responses, and one of the often repeated arguments was that Yankee fans would rather trade Gardner than Granderson. This brings me to my question: Who does more for the Yankees in 2011?
I’ll start by saying I am a big proponent of Granderson. I think going forward for 2011 and 2012 (at least) Granderson will outproduce Gardner. Looking at their 2010 seasons this assertion seems a little off the wall, but I think we have seen the worst of Granderson and the best of Gardner. Granderson has been a valuable player this year, Gardner has played at an All-Star level. I get that. My concern is going forward. Aren’t we seeing the absolute peak of Gardner’s abilities this year?
If the 2010 Granderson is the player he is going forward, he still provides value as an average offensive player with above average defense in CF. Working with Kevin Long has helped Granderson recently, though there is no way we can directly correlate that Long’s help “fixed” Curtis. Whether it was Long’s help or not, Granderson’s bat has picked up in the past month. Long will likely be around next year and Granderson is a willing listener and learner. Either way, Granderson definitely has room for improvement. Will he ever be the beast he was in 2007 and 2008? Probably not, though at just 30 years old on Opening Day 2011, he’s still in his expected prime and is definitely capable on improving his 2010 season. Granderson’s 2010 BABIP is .283 vs. a career BABIP of .316. I can’t ignore that his 2009 BABIP was .275 so I don’t want to say he has been unlucky for two straight years, but his batted ball data hasn’t seen any major shift in 2009-2010 from the rest of his career. His career LD% is 20.7 which he is matching this year and was at 21.2% in 2009. With his speed and line drive rate, I have to think his BABIP is due for a rise next year. Even if it doesn’t, he’s still valuable.
If the 2010 Gardner is the player he is going forward, he provides a ton of value. I’m just not convinced Brett will keep this up going forward, this is likely his peak. What can he realistically do better than he is doing this year? He’s not going to hit for power. I doubt he’ll become a .420 OBP guy. Are more of his balls in play likely to fall in for hits? Doubtful. His defense is great and isn’t something that he’ll necessarily improve going forward. Gardner to me is the epitome of a sell high piece right now. We don’t know that Gardner can repeat this next year. If he does, that’s great. If he doesn’t, then you’ve just lost a very valuable trade chip and might have a 4th OF on your hands. Noted Yankee hater* Keith Law is still not sold on Gardner. He doesn’t believe Gardner’s skill set will allow him to continue producing at this level. Whether it turns out to be true or not, that’s a fair assessment. I don’t advocate trading Gardner for a middle reliever, but if there are teams out there that are sold on Gardner’s 2010 as his true level, you have to investigate. Considering the financial cost, I believe Gardner, at least to some teams, would be more valuable on the trade market than Granderson anyway.
In 2011 Gardner could certainly be a more valuable player than Granderson, but Granderson is far more of a sure thing. Granderson’s potential peak is higher, but more importantly Gardner’s potential floor is lower. Maybe the Yankees are 100% sold on Gardner and like his cheap production, but if these guys come up in trade talks during the offseason, I’d much rather Gardner be the one packing his bags.
We’ve seen this movie before, several times in the past week in fact. The Yankees push a run across early, but otherwise squander a fantastic opportunity or two to blow things open. The starting pitcher does his job, but can’t hold the opposition scoreless forever and the Yanks go into the late innings trying to find some offense. Thankfully, the movie had an alternate ending tonight. Alex Rodriguez pulled his latest Superman act to almost singlehandedly put the Yanks in the win column after eight borderline unwatchable innings.
Biggest Hit: Just Get It To Alex
Those were my words when Mark Teixeira stepped to the plate with two men on and one out in the top of the ninth inning. Just get it to Alex, he will make everything okay. He already put the Yanks on the board with a solo shot in the second inning, but they needed him more than ever when Orioles’ closer Koji Uehara entered the game.
Jorge Posada led off the ninth with a single after monster at-bat (more on that in just a sec), and two batters later Curtis Granderson dunked a single into right. Tex did as I asked and merely popped out into foul territory to bring A-Rod to the plate as the tying run. Clearly, Uehara’s plan was to bust Alex inside with hard stuff, and he did exactly that with his first four pitches for a 2-2 count. The fifth pitch, a 90 mph fastball, was inside as well, but not as far as in the others. A-Rod jumped all over it, and everyone in the building knew it was gone just by the sound. Why they didn’t throw a changeup there, I’ll never know.
Just like that, the two run deficit became a one run lead, and all of the frustration from the last ten days was seemingly lifted off everyone’s shoulders. With that one swing of the bat, the Yankees went from their ninth loss in 11 games to first place in the AL East. Remember, just get it to Alex, he cures all ills.
Honorable Mention: Jorge Works It
Of course, A-Rod’s ninth inning heroics wouldn’t even have been possible if it wasn’t for Posada’s huge, huge at-bat to start the inning. Uehara jumped ahead 1-2, but just couldn’t seem to find the put-away pitch. Jorge fouled off five of the next seven pitches to work the count full before going down and poking a changeup into shallow left-center for a leadoff single. I’m not convinced the pitch was even a strike, but it doesn’t matter. All Posada had to do was get on base, and he delivered.
Alex’s homer is clearly the most important play of the game, but there isn’t enough we can say about Jorge’s at-bat. Just a brilliant job by a brilliant player.
Oh Yeah, Good A.J. Showed Up
It didn’t really feel like it when the game was going on, but the end result for starter A.J. Burnett was undeniably positive. Seven innings, three runs, six runs, five strikeouts, and 11 grounders against five fly balls. The first run was straight up manufactured by the O’s; hit by pitch, stolen base, grounder to the right side, sac fly. The second was an Adam Jones homer that Ben gets 100% of the blame for given the way he taunted Jones on Twitter all day. The third was Robert Andino’s first homer of a season, the only true WTF moment of A.J.’s outing.
Everyone wants to know how A.J. got his shiny new black eye, but if he keeps giving the Yanks outings like this, I couldn’t care less how he got it. He’s gone at least six innings in six of his last seven starts (ignoring the rain shortened start in Texas last time out), so lately he’s been giving them length, and the last three times out he’s even managed to keep them in the game. Burnett is definitely trending up at the right time, but there’s still more work to be done.
Still Wasting Chances
Ah yes, we can’t ignore those blown chances just because they won the game in dramatic fashion. The Yanks once again stranded double digit baserunners (11 this time), and their lone hit in nine at-bats with men in scoring position was A-Rod’s deciding homer. A bases loaded, one out situation in the second inning yielded zero runs, as did a first and second with two outs spot in the sixth. Hopefully Alex’s homer gets the monkey off everyone’s back and the team can just relax and loosen up a bit and start cashing in these opportunities. Honestly, I don’t know how much more of this I could take.
Brett Gardner was back in the starting lineup for the first time since last Saturday after getting a cortisone shot in his wrist, and he promptly drew a walk in his first plate appearance. He didn’t reach base the rest of the night, though he did see 22 pitches in four trips to the plate. I love ya Colin Curtis, but I’m glad Brett’s back in there. Nick Swisher grounded out in his pinch-hitting appearance; hopefully he’s ready to go before everyone goes back to work on Monday.
Derek Jeter saw 24 pitches in his five plate appearances, but he got caught looking at strike three twice in the late innings to stall rallies. The Captain’s been swinging the bat much better lately, so I’m sure (hopeful) this is just a blip on the radar.
Yawn, Lance Berkman reached base three times in his four trips to the plate. Since coming off the disabled list, Fat Elvis is hitting a cool .455/.550/.515 with more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five). Love it. Meanwhile, Austin Kearns only struck out once in three plate appearances, so that’s progress.
Mark Teixeira had that beastly homestand a two weeks or so ago, but he’s hitting just .152/.298/.152 in his last dozen games. I know offense is down around the league this season, but I think we all expected a little more than .259/.367/.483 (his line after this game) out of Mark this year.
Tampa Bay fell to the Angels because of a late Brandon Wood (!!!) homerun, so the Yanks are back on top of the AL East by half-a-game. Boston lost to the Blue Jays, so the lead for the Wild Card is at seven games. Any combination of Yankee wins and Red Sox losses that total nine from here on out will clinch a postseason berth for the Bombers. There’s a very real chance the Yanks could clinch when the Red Sox come to the Bronx next weekend, just like they did last year.
WPA Graph & Box Score
Games like this are why I love baseball. That’s a .709 WPA swing right there. Point seven oh nine. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the cool stuff like this…
Oh yeah, CC Sabathia‘s pitching tomorrow. He gets the ball against Jeremy Guthrie at 7:05pm ET tomorrow night. I despise Saturday evening games, but what can you do.
Both A.J. Burnett and Joe Girardi declined comment after the game about the righty’s new shiner, though A.J. did say it was not baseball related. So here’s your chance to tell us what you think happened. I bet Brian Cashman did it, you don’t think he shows up to games four hours away from home just to talk to the guys, do you?
(h/t James for the screen grab)
Manny Banuelos will be going to the Arizona Fall League after all. The Yankees were able to convince the Mexican League club that controls his winter ball rights to let him go to the AzFL, where he’ll throw 35-45 innings before being shut down. Dellin Betances, meanwhile, will go to Instructional League to work exclusively on his fielding, he will not pitch. He really hurt himself with some bad errors in the playoffs.
Double-A Trenton (5-0 loss to Altoona) Altoona now leads the best-of-five series two games to one … the fate of the season lies in Banuelos’ hands tomorrow
Austin Krum, CF & Luis Nunez, 2B: both 0 for 4 – Nunez K’ed
Justin Snyder, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
Dan Brewer, RF: 2 for 3, 1 BB
Austin Romine, C, Marcos Vechionacci, 1B & Damon Sublett, LF: all 1 for 4, 1 K – Romine allowed a passed ball
Rene Rivera, DH: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Matt Cusick, 2B: 0 for 3
Adam Warren: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HB, 2-4 GB/FB – the heater was sitting 91-94 … the wheels kinda came off in his final inning of work
Wilkins Arias: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Adam Olbrychowski: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB
Pat Venditte: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB
Ryan Pope: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB
High-A Tampa beat Charlotte on Monday to win the Florida State League Championship, their second consecutive league title.
Low-A Charleston, Short Season Staten Island, and the Rookie GCL Yanks are done. None of the three qualified for the postseason. Triple-A Scranton‘s season ended when they lost to Columbus in the first round of the International League playoffs.
Eight of ten. Eight losses in ten games is what the Yankees have in their rearview mirror, but thankfully that’s behind them. The road is wide open in front of them, and they control their own destiny as far as clinching a playoff spot and winning the AL East. Yesterday’s off day gave everyone a chance to regroup, re-gameplay, and wipe that horrible slate clean. Tonight, it’s time to get back on track, and Brian Cashman is there to make sure it happens.
The Orioles are coming in very hot, having just swept the Blue Jays to cap off a stretch in which they’ve won nine of 11 games. Buck Showalter’s got his team playing very well, but they’re not unbeatable. Kevin Millwood, tonight’s starter, has faced the Yankees three times this season, and has a 7.56 ERA and 2.22 WHIP in those starts. How about we make those numbers go up, shall we?
Here’s the lineup…
SS Jeter, Derek
CF Granderson, Curtis
1B Teixeira, Mark
3B Rodriguez, Alex
2B Cano, Robinson
DH Berkman, Lance
RF Kearns, Austin
LF Gardner, Brett – so happy to see him back
C Cervelli, Frankie – oh that silly catcher rotation
And on the mound, it’s Allen Burnett.
First pitch at Yankee Stadium South Camden Yards is set for 7:05pm ET, and this one can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Via Bryan Hoch, the Indians have claimed outfielder Chad Huffman off waivers. The Yankees designated Huffman for assignment just two days ago to make room on the roster for Royce Ring. The 25-year-old had a nice season in Triple-A Scranton (.339 wOBA) and a pretty awful showing with the big league team earlier in the year (.229 wOBA in 21 plate appearances), but as a defensively limited corner outfielder/first baseman, he really had no long-term chances in New York. I wish him the best in Cleveland.