July 2nd International Signing Period Begins

It feels like the draft was just yesterday, but the July 2nd International Signing Period begins today. Ben Badler posted a list of the top 40 prospects with links to video, ranking the kids by their expected signing bonus and not necessarily talent. There is certainly some correlation between signing bonus and prospect-ness, though. That link is free for all, but you’ll need a Baseball America subscription to see scouting reports and team-by-team breakdowns. As usual, the Yankees are expected to be among the biggest spenders in Latin American this year.

We’ve already heard about their interest in Luis Reynoso, Manny Marcos, Roberto Osuna, and Miguel Andujar, but the new name is Adalberto Mondesi, Raul’s son. He’s a rare shortstop that projects to stay at the position, with speed, soft hands, and a strong arm. Badler notes that some scouts like his swing from both sides of the plate, though he doesn’t figure to have much power. The Yankees haven’t signed anyone yet (other teams have), but don’t worry, they will soon.

Introductions, July 4th and the Yankees, and general randomness

To the RAB Readership,

Hi folks. I’m Matt Warden and it’s a pleasure to meet you — even if it’s only in a virtual sense!

I’ve been a dedicated reader (and sporadic commenter) here at River Ave Blues for quite some time, and am absolutely delighted about now having the opportunity to contribute to the site as an author. Of course, I certainly look forward to all of your candid feedback in the “comments” section as well.

My hope is to provide you the same thoughtful, unbiased analysis that you’ve come to expect from the RAB crew. At the very least, ideally, it is my preference that you won’t walk away feeling like Filbert, the uncomfortable anthropomorphic turtle from Rocko’s Modern Life (one of my favorite childhood cartoons mind you), thinking “I’m nauseous…I’m nauseous…I’m nauseous!” after each one of my posts. If that is indeed the case, I’d strongly recommend lowering your standards.

I’ve also recently been assimilated by the Borg Tweeting community —  my Twitter tag is @Matt_Warden. Feel free to send me your observations, rants, criticisms, hexes, whatever really — I’ll do my best to respond in kind.

Best regards,
Matt W.

And now…here’s something Yankee-related.

One of my favorite elements of baseball, as a sport, is the general acknowledgment and appreciation of seemingly arbitrary tidbits of information.  Given that it’s a holiday weekend; I thought it’d be fun to provide some frivolity by offering some interesting July Fourth related morsels of my own.

  • Over the past 21 seasons, the Yankees have gone 9-12 on Independence Day. The nine winning NY pitchers during that time frame (listed in chronological order) are: Eric Plunk, Mariano Rivera (back when he was still considered a starting pitcher), Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Jason Anderson, Brett Tomko, and most recently David Robertson in 2010.
  • There have only been six players who have played for the New York Yankees whose birthdays have also fallen on the Fourth of July. They are as follows:
    1. Ted Lilly – [2000-2002] during 2001, Lilly’s one full season with the Yankees, he pitched to a 5.37 ERA (84 ERA+) with a 1.467 WHIP in 120.2 innings (valued at a -0.1 bWAR).  Unfortunately, we never saw the best of Ted.
    2. Daryl Boston – [1994] through 84 plate appearances, Daryl batted .182/.250/.364 (.614 OPS), which was good for a -0.8 bWAR. Hooray for underachievement.
    3. Paul Gibson – [1993-1994] Threw a grand total of 64.1 IP during his tenure in pinstripes. In 1994, his SO/9 rate was 6.5; his BB/9 rate was 5.3.
    4. George Selkirk [1934-1942] – During his nine big league seasons, Selkirk’s slash line was .290/.400/.483 (.883 OPS). The most important thing you have to know about Selkirk though, is his nickname – Twinkletoes (I laughed).
    5. Blondy Ryan – [1935] played in 35 games (105 AB) and hit .238/.259/.305. Now I know what you’re thinking so let me give you something else to ponder instead. In 1933, he played in 146 games (543 PA), and batted .207/.258/.293. He was ninth in voting for NL MVP during the 1933 season. It was a pretty different landscape back then.
    6. Klondike Smith – [1912] Real first name: Armstrong. His professional career extended all of seven games and all were with the Yankees. In his very brief stint in the Big Leagues, he posted a .185/.185/.222 triple slash (five total hits comprised of four singles and one double).  So there’s that.
  • As far as I can tell, the only players to have died on Independence Day who spent time with the Yankees are Tony Rensa [played with NY in 1933] who died in 1987 and Foster Edwards [played with NY in 1930] who died in 1980. RIP.
  • This year, the Yankees will play Cleveland on the Fourth of July. The last time this match up occurred was back in 2006. The Bombers lost that game 19-1 (!). The winning pitcher for Cleveland was Jake Westbrook; the loser for NY was Shawn Chacon (surprise, surprise). He lasted a whopping 1.1 innings, allowed six hits (three of which were homeruns), seven earned runs, three walks, and managed only one strikeout. The “mop up” crew charged with cleaning up the steaming pile of handling the remainder of the game was composed of Ron Villone, T.J. Beam, Mike Myers, Scott Proctor, and Kyle Farnsworth.  It sure makes you feel good about are current bullpen even with half of them on the DL.
  • The last time the Yankees beat the Tribe on July Fourth was back in 2002 (Bombers won 7-1). The winning pitcher was Mike Mussina; Chuck Finley was the loser. Alfonso Soriano (1 H), Enrique Wilson (1 H), Bernie Williams (2 H), Jason Giambi (2 H), Raul Mondesi (2 H), Robin Ventura (1 H), Shane Spencer (1 H), and Chris Widger (1 H) all contributed offensively. Giambi and Mondesi both hit homeruns (it was the 22nd of the season for Giambi, the 16th for Mondesi).
  • On June 21, the Yankees announced the official retirement of Lou Gehrig. July 4, 1939 was proclaimed “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee stadium. It would be in between the double header against the then Washington Senators, that Gehrig would deliver his famous “The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. The New York Times described the speech as “perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell.”

I’m thinking that’s probably enough for now.  Have a happy (and safe) long weekend!

Nunez, Yankees take Subway Series opener

Another day, another win for the Yankees, who are playing their best baseball of the season. They jumped out on top of the Mets early and held on for dear life, winning their sixth straight and 12th interleague game in 16 tries.

Just a little too much of the plate in the first.

An Early Lead

You can’t do much better than three consecutive hits to open the game. Nick Swisher singled up the middle after taking what he thought was ball four on the previous pitch, then Curtis Granderson followed up with a solid single to right. Mark Teixeira ripped an opposite field double down the right field line to score both of those guys, and two batters later Tex came around to score on Robinson Cano‘s opposite field double. Just more of the same for the Yankees, who have been pretty relentless on offense lately.

Ivan’s Tightrope

He tried, Ivan Nova tried desperately to give back those three runs. Jose Reyes led off the first with an infield single that featured a bad throw by Eduardo Nunez, though he made up for the throw later (more on that in a bit) and I’m pretty sure Reyes would have been safe anyway. Justin Turner singled to center, but Nova escaped the jam by getting Carlos Beltran to pop out on the infield before Cano turned a gorgeous double play at second. Three straight singles scored the Mets a run in the second, but Nova settled down a bit and retired ten of the next eleven men he faced. Then things got a little sticky.

With two outs in the fifth inning and the Yankees up by two, Turner fouled off two straight 0-2 pitches before singling to left to keep the inning alive. Then Carlos Beltran singled to right, and then Daniel Murphy drew a five pitch to suddenly load the bases. Just like that, bases empty and two outs to bases loaded. Nova got just eight swings and misses all game, but two of them came against Angel Pagan, who struck out on a 2-2 curveball and was thrown out at first on the wild pitch. That was the only non-pitcher Ivan struck out all night, and he sure picked a good time to use it.

Overall, Nova allowed nine baserunners (seven hits and two walks) in five innings, throwing just 89 pitches. Just one of his 15 outs came on a ball that left the infield, everything else was either a ground out, strikeout, or infield pop up. If you’re not going to get swings and misses, that’s a really good way to limit the damage. Nova sandwiched some nice pitching between jams, but a little defense and timely pitching got him his eighth win of the season.

All night with that damn curve.

The Sixth Inning

Following Ivan’s escape job in the fifth, the Yankees came back and immediately put Jon Niese in a pickle. Cano singled on the first pitch of the inning to put the Mets’ lefty into the stretch, then Russell Martin worked a five pitch walk to put men on first and second while the bullpen sprung into action. Andruw Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice that would have been a double play if not for Martin’s takeout slide at second, which is 100% legal because Ruben Tejeda was standing right on top of the bag. That’s when things got weird.

Nunez jumped all over Niese’s first pitch and blooped it into the triangle in shallow right-center. Reyes went back on the ball and tried to make an over-the-shoulder basket catch, but it landed just beyond his reach. Cano did not score from third even though third base coach Robbie Thompson was yelling at him to run after the ball dropped it. It was definitely a tough play to see, I thought Reyes caught it from where I was sitting, but yeah, that’s a ball Robbie has to score on. Regardless, the Yankees now had the bases load and one out, and Joe Girardi went for the kill.

Jorge Posada pinch-hit for Nova, who likely had another inning him, but the plan backfired when Jorge stared at an outside curveball for strike three in the second out. Niese was getting that call all night, that outside curve to righties that looked like it hooked right around the plate. Tough pitch, there’s really nothing you can do with it except foul it off, but of course it looks like a ball until the last second. Swisher grounded out to the end the inning and the threat, so the Yankees came away with nothing even though they should have on that bloop play. At least it didn’t come back to haunt them.

Eduardo’s Big Day

How about a career high four hits for Mr. Nunez? The Yankee’ temporary shortstop picked up four completely different hits in this game; the first was a bunt single, the second a double to shallow right, the third that bloop single, and the fourth a shot back up the box to drive in an insurance run. Nunez also made a nice relay throw from shallow center to get Reyes at third in the seventh, when it looked like the Mets were mounding a rally. He dropped the throw from Granderson, but hustled to pick it up and throw to Alex Rodriguez at third. Replays showed that Reyes was probably safe, but all that matters is the umpire’s call. Despite the throwing error in the first, it was a great day for the one Girardi calls Nunie.

Oh, and can someone get the kid a smaller helmet or a chin strap or something? The thing falls off every time he runs the bases. Maybe it’s strategy, maybe it comes off intentionally to distract the fielders. That’s it, it’s the new market inefficiency. Over-sized helmets.

A(bsurd play)-Rod.


Once Nova exited the game, it was all hands on deck. Luis Ayala got two outs (one baserunner), Cory Wade got three outs (two baserunners), Boone Logan got one out (no baserunners), David Robertson got three outs (no baserunners), the soon-to-be demoted Hector Noesi got one out (one baserunner), and Mariano Rivera finished it off with the two outs (one baserunner). I’m not sure Girardi needed to go to Mo there, it was just one baserunner and the Yankees were up by five. Eh, whatever.

Teixeira was flashing some serious leather at first base, making no fewer than three great scoops on throws in the dirt. A-Rod also made a great play at third, basically making the Derek Jeter jump throw to get the speedy Tejeda at first. Cano also had that great double play in the first, and Brett Gardner made a few running grabs in left after coming into the game in the later innings. Fine defensive showing for the good guys.

Quick recap of the offense: Swisher had the single and three strikeouts, Grandy a walk and single, Tex the double and two walks, A-Rod a single and a booming double off the top of the wall in left-center (probably out in Yankee Stadium), and Cano the two hits. After getting two hits with runners in scoring position in the first inning, the Yankees went 2-for-17 in those spots the rest of the way. Ouch. HowEVA, in their last four games, the Yanks have outscored their opponents 27-5. Yep.

This has nothing to do with the game, but Andruw was launching some serious bombs in batting practice. He hit one onto the Shea Bridge beyond the bullpens in right-center, an opposite field job for him. He also put one in the second deck in left. Dude is crazy strong.

The 42,020 fans are a new CitiField record, though the Yankees are bad for baseball. Blah blah blah. Like I said earlier, it was their season high sixth win in a row and 16thwin in their last 20 games. That’ll do.

WPA Graph & Box Score

It certainly didn’t feel that safe, I know that much. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Same two teams tomorrow afternoon, when Bartolo Colon makes his triumphant return to the rotation against Dillon Gee. That one is a FOX game, so a 4pm ET start. Boo.

Montgomery strikes out five in one inning (!!!)

Dan Brewer was activated off the disabled list.

Triple-A Scranton (9-7 win over Norfolk)
Greg Golson, CF, Luis Nunez, 2B & Doug Bernier, SS: all 1 for 4 – Golson scored two runs, the other guys one each … Golson also got hit by a pitch and threw a runner out at third
Dan Brewer, LF: 0 for 0, 1 R, 1 BB – left the game in the first inning for an unknown reason
Austin Krum, LF: 1 for 1, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 CS – got picked off first … threw a runner out at second
Jordan Parraz, RHP: 2 for 4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 PB – the single came off a broken bat
Terry Tiffee, 1B: 2 for 3, 2 RBI
Brandon Laird, 3B: 0 for 3, 1 RBI
Gus Molina, DH: 0 for 4
The Ghost of Kei Igawa, LHP: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 5-7 GB/FB – 60 of 101 pitches were strikes (59.4%) … 11 walks and six strikeouts in his last 12 IP
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (63.6%)
Randy Flores, LHP: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 15 of 27 pitches were strikes (55.6%)

[Read more…]

Game 80: Subway Series

Here’s the starting lineup…

Nick Swisher, RF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Andruw Jones, LF
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Ivan Nova, SP

First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Aside: I’ll be at all three games this weekend, though I got to the park too late today to sit in on Joe Girardi‘s and Brian Cashman‘s pregame press conference. Figures Cashman won’t be here the next two days. Stupid Whitestone Bridge. Anyway, I’ll have pre and postgame notes all weekend long, plus more.

Chavez strains back during rehab

Eric Chavez strained his back rehabbing from his foot injury, a setback that will keep him on the shelf even longer than expected. It’s unclear when he’ll be able to come back now, it depends on the severity of the strain of course. Might be time for the Yankees to look for a left-handed hitter off the bench, no?