Sunday Night Open Thread

(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

Phil friggin’ Hughes, eh? This afternoon we caught a glimpse of the pitcher he was supposed to become after all the hype and prospect lists and unmet expectations. Outside of the total stinker in Anaheim, that’s five pretty good starts in his last six times out. The win gave the Yankees a very awesome 6-3 road trip that could have been 8-1 with a little luck in the two walk-off losses. Pretty awesome.

Here’s your open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night game is the Cardinals at the Mets (Westbrook vs. Niese) plus there’s some NBA playoff action on as well. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.

Yankees remain interested in Jorge Soler

Via Dan Martin, the Yankees remain interested in 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. MLB declared him a free agent recently and the Yankees were said to have “serious interest” back during the offseason. His agent still needs to secure an unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Asset control before he can officially sign, but that’s not considered a major obstacle. Soler will be subject to the new spending restrictions come July 2nd, so expect him to sign for some ungodly amount rather soon.

2012 Draft: Walker Weickel

The 2012 amateur draft starts tomorrow, so I’m going to highlight some last-minute prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Walker Weickel | RHP

Background
Weickel has starred for Team USA throughout his high school career and has been on the draft radar for years. He attends Olympia High School outside of Orlando and is committed to Miami.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 195 lbs., Weickel went through a growth spurt last year and is still figuring out how to pitch with his new frame. He usually throws his fastball in the low-90s with a power curveball in the upper-70s, but this spring he’s been more upper-80s with the heat and low-70s with the curve. He also throws a changeup. Weickel has struggled with his delivery this spring and it’s led to his declining stuff. His frame oozes projection and there’s a lot to dream on here.

Miscellany
Keith Law (#29), MLB.com (#31), and Baseball America (#37) all have Weickel in the mix for the end of the first round, which is where the Yankees pick (#30 overall). For what it’s worth, Baseball America says he’s on the team’s radar in their latest mock draft. I would prefer to see the Yankees take a player who isn’t as much of a project early on, but Weickel offers a lot of upside and would be a fine first round selection. Talent is talent, and he has a lot of it.

Game 53: The Sixth Win

Kill 'em all Joe. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

I dunno about you, but a 6-3 road trip would look a whole lot better than a 5-4 road trip. Justin Verlander is standing in the way of that aesthetically pleasing sixth win, so the Yankees are going to have to earn it. If Ivan Nova‘s pre-game batting practice session — he homered — is any indication, they’ll be fine. Too bad that doesn’t mean anything. Here’s the starting nine…

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

RHP Phil Hughes

Today’s game starts a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy.

2012 Draft: Lucas Sims

The 2012 amateur draft starts tomorrow, so I’m going to highlight some last-minute prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Lucas Sims | RHP

Background
Hailing from Brookwood High School in the Atlanta suburbs, Sims has been a factor in this year’s draft since pitching for Team USA two summers ago. He’s committed to Clemson.

Scouting Report
A 6-foot-3 and 190 lb. right-hander, Sims sits in the low-90s with his fastball and has shown 97 in shorter outings. His top secondary offering is a power slider in the low-80s, but also throws a loopy curveball in the low-70s. He doesn’t have much of a changeup yet and will likely have to focus on just one breaking ball in pro ball. Sims has a fairly simply delivery but he does have a slight wrist-wrap, which is typically considered more of a potential command issue than a health risk. His stuff is among the best in the class and he supplements it with a strong track record in high-profile events.

Miscellany
MLB.com (#23), Baseball America (#29), and Keith Law (#32) all agree that Sims is right in the mix for the back-end of the first round, and it’s worth noting that Baseball America said the Yankees have some interest in him for their first round pick (#30 overall) in their latest mock draft. It’s weird, I like Sims less than guys like Zach Eflin, Shane Watson, and J.O. Berrios, but apparently the three major publications like him more than those three. I just feel like they have comparable stuff but maybe fewer questions about their long-term command and delivery, but that doesn’t means Sims would be a bad first round pick by any means.

Report: Soriano will remain closer when Robertson returns

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees intend to keep Rafael Soriano in the closer role even after David Robertson returns from his oblique strain in (hopefully) two weeks. I’m a fan of the move, I’ve wanted Soriano to close ever since Mariano Rivera got hurt. It frees up Robertson to be used a little more liberally in the seventh and eighth rather than be married to one specific inning late in the game. Soriano will make you sweat a bit but that’s unavoidable, he’s done the job these last few weeks and actually looks comfortable for the first time in pinstripes.

Yanks can’t finish off Tigers, lose on a walk-off


Source: FanGraphs

Sometimes, teams just find a way to lose. The Yankees did just that on Saturday night, failing to capitalize on the numerous chances they were given by the Tigers’ bullpen. I mean … Detroit’s relievers did everything but put a bow on it. It was right there for the taking. Anyway, let’s recap…

  • No Help: Did you know that Hiroki Kuroda came into this game 116th out of 120 qualified starters in run support? They Yankees have now scored two runs or less while Kuroda was on mound is seven of his last eight starts, which is just hard to believe. He pitched very well on Saturday, allowing just two runs — one on a monster homer by Miguel Cabrera, which I wouldn’t hold against any pitcher — in seven innings while throwing just 86 pitches. The 39-minute rain delay in the first inning likely contributed to his early exit.
  • Rally To Tie: Raul Ibanez plated the Yankees’ first round with a ground out, but the (first) tying run crossed the plate when Nick Swisher singled in Mark Teixeira with two outs in the eighth. Jim Leyland did New York a favor by putting Octavio Dotel in the game with five straight left-handed batters due up. It was a pretty big hit by Swisher.
  • Give It Back: Cory Wade served up a walk-off homer in Anaheim and a potential game winning homer on Saturday in Detroit. Cabrera hit it with two outs and the bases empty, and I wonder why he was thrown anything remotely close to the plate. Can’t let him beat you in that spot, take your chances with Boone Logan against Fielder.
  • Rally To Tie (Part II): Jose Valverde wanted the Yankees to win. I don’t have any other explanation. He hit Russell Martin, walked Derek Jeter, hit Alex Rodriguez, and then walked Teixeira to force in the tying run. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano frustratingly popped up in between, but Tex took what was given to him, and that was four balls. The double steal with one out and A-Rod at the plate was just brilliant, well-timed with a slow pitcher on the mound and a right-handed batter in the box. Pinch-runner Dewayne Wise said after the game he went on his own, so major props to him.
  • Game Over: Once the game goes into the bottom of the ninth tied, I have a hard time expected the road team to win regardless of who it is. The Yankees didn’t disappoint, as David Phelps created a mess Logan couldn’t escape. I question the decision to take Wade out after just 13 pitches, but what can you do. I know he has a shiny ERA, but the Yankees need a little more out of Phelps with the bullpen short due to injury. Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta are hugging the Mendoza Line, you gotta get ahead on those guys and keep them off base. Anyway, former Yankees farmhand Omir Santos’ bases loaded sacrifice fly ended it with one out in the ninth. The game was over as soon as Logan was ordered to intentionally load the bases as far as I’m concerned.
  • Leftovers: Joe Girardi and Kevin Long were ejected in the seventh for apparently complaining about the strike zone, but it didn’t happen until home plate ump Bob Davidson wandered over to the dugout … the Yankees stole five total bases (including two on that great double steal), a new season-high by a mile (previous high was two, done five times) … the Yanks were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and the at-bats by Granderson and Cano in the ninth were by far the worst … the DH spot had three hits (two by Eric Chavez, one by Andruw Jones) but everyone else in the lineup had no more than one … Don Kelly robbed Mark Teixeira of an opposite field solo homer in the fourth … give Leyland some credit, he used his best reliever (Joaquin Benoit) with the top of the order due up in the seventh, and he pitched them out of the jam without giving up a run. Hooray leveraging.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees remain one game back of first place in the loss column (and two up on last place) in the ultra-competitive AL East. Five wins on a nine-game road trip is a success, but they’re going to have to go through Justin Verlander on Sunday afternoon to make it a six-win trip. Phil Hughes will be on the bump for the good guys.