Noesi, Stoneburner dominate in wins

Josh Norris chatted with Nardi Contreras briefly, who talked about who might be going to the Arizona Fall League this year. We’re still waiting for part two of the interview, but check it out anyway.

Triple-A Scranton (7-4 loss to Toledo)
Kevin Russo, LF-2B: 3 for 5, 2 R – 14 for his last 42 (.333)
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 0 for 0 – left the game after fouling a ball of his face in the very 1st inning
Greg Golson, PH-RF: 2 for 5, 2 2B, 1 K – 13 for his last 39 with four doubled, a triple & three homers
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K – 15 for his last 35 (.429)
Juan Miranda, 1B, Jorge Vazquez, DH, Brandon Laird, 3B & Eric Bruntlett, 2B-SS: all 1 for 4 – Miranda K’ed … JoVa drove in a run & K’ed … Laird K’ed twice … Bruntlett hit a solo jack & K’ed twice
Colin Curtis, CF: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – three homers in his last nine games after hitting just one in his first 59 games
Chad Huffman, RF-LF: 0 for 4, 2 K
Lance Pendleton: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2-6 GB/FB – 55 of 91 pitches were strikes (60.4%)
Zack Segovia: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (68.6%)
Amaury Sanit: 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1-1 GB/FB – 15 of 22 pitches were strikes (68.2%)

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Open Thread: Walking on hallowed ground

I haven’t been to a game in a few weeks, so I haven’t been able to check up on the status of the demolition of the Old Stadium across the street. Yeah, I know it’s a giant hole in the ground now (and has been for quite some time), but building and construction nerds like me enjoy that stuff.

With a big ol’ tip of the cap to Sliding Into Home, Baseball-Fever.com user DN4L posted some pictures of the new walkway that allows you to walk across the land where the Old Stadium used to be, like the one you see above. From the looks of things, it allows you cut across from 161st St. to the middle of Macombs Dam Park, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. That’s certainly useful if you’re coming from the New Metro North Station, which of course I never do.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday Night Game features the Mets and Phillies, with the primo pitching matchup of Mike Pelfrey vs. Kyle Kendrick. Santana vs. Halladay it is not. Enjoy the game if you partake, and feel free to talk about whatever you want.

Rehab Update: Pettitte & Aceves

News of Andy Pettitte‘s rehab setback scared us all to hell on Friday, but the good news is that his injured groin felt a-okay when he met the team in Kansas City yesterday. He expected to be sore the day after throwing his simulated game, but it looks like he lucked out. There is no firm plan in place to restart Pettitte’s rehab right now, but the team is going to very careful as you could expect. He’s going to play catch early next week, and if that goes well he’ll progress to a bullpen session and/or a simulated game and then hopefully a rehab start. This whole thing set him back about a week or so, from the looks of it.

As for Al Aceves, who threw two fine innings with Double-A Trenton on Friday, he’ll make another rehab start with the Thunder on Tuesday and throw three innings or 30 pitches. Joe Girardi indicated that the team isn’t so concerned with stretching him out to 50 pitches or whatever, but they do want to see him pitch on “short rest,” as in just a day or two. After all the setbacks, it’s been so far, so good with Ace’s rehab. Keep your fingers crossed.

Berkman day-to-day with jammed right ankle

Update (4:45pm): Berkman’s day-to-day with a jammed right ankle. Not too bad, I guess.

4:00pm: Lance Berkman left today’s game with an apparent ankle injury after stepping on the back of Bryan Bullington’s foot as the Royals’ righthander covered first on a double play attempt. Marcus Thames took his place as the designated hitter. No word on the severity of the injury, but we’ll keep you updated.

Berkman was 0-for-2 on the day, but he was hitting .333/.444/.600 in his previous 18 plate appearances, so it’s obviously not an insignificant loss.

Game 117: Wait, he’s still in baseball?

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Eight years ago, the Pirates made one of many poor early draft selections when they held the first overall pick in 2002. Instead of taking a premium up-the-middle talent like say, B.J. Upton, or a super-high upside arm like Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels or Matt Cain, the Bucs went safe and took a college pitcher, admitting soon after the draft that they projected him as a “solid mid-rotation starter.” Not exactly first overall pick material. That pitcher’s name? Bryan Bullington. Today’s starter for the Royals? Bryan Bullington.

The righthander from Ball State has obviously flamed out, failing to meet even Pittsburgh’s modest expectations following a litany of injuries and ineffectiveness. He’s bounced around a bit in the last several seasons and now finds himself in the Kansas City rotation and starting against the defending World Champs. Bullington has never faced the Yankees before, so we’re going to have to deal with the whole “ZOMG a pitcher they’ve never seen before” phenomenon. Don’t ask me why, but I feel confident about this one (that means they’re doomed).

Here’s the lineup…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Berkman, DH
Granderson, CF
Gardner, LF
Cervelli, C

And on the bump, it’s A.J. Burnett. Hopefully he repeats the outing he had in Texas, that would be fantastic.

It’s a get-away day for the Yanks, so this one starts a little after 2pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Link Dump: Defensive metrics, Greinke, Papelbon and Berkman

A few Sunday morning links for your reading pleasure:

Tim Marchman of SI.com addresses the problem with defensive stats and I couldn’t agree with him more.  While there is some value in the various defensive stats and the other stats that derive from them (WAR, VORP, etc.) I don’t think we can throw these out there every time to prove that Player X is better than Player Y simply because he has a better WAR.  The data isn’t 100% reliable as is shown by different metrics for these stats. I don’t know that there will ever be a perfect fielding metric as it will always have some subjectivity, having one uniform stat would be a good start.

Zack Greinke is unhappy in Kansas City.  Let the speculation begin, especially in New York.  I’m sure this offseason will be full of Greinke trade rumors, and whether or not the Yankees are involved they will be linked.  I think the Royals should trade him, looking for a Teixeira to the Braves type of package as they won’t go anywhere while Greinke is under his current contract and look at what the Tex trade has done for Texas.  While he is more than just a rental, the Royals should strike and get as big a package as possible.  From the Yankees perspective I’d just go all in on signing Cliff Lee and let Greinke go elsewhere.  The cost will simply be too much if he does go anywhere.

Another blown save by Jonathan Papelbon (and a doozy) and another article questioning whether he should be demoted with Daniel Bard taking over as closer.  As a Yankees fan I can only dream the Sox decide to put Papelbon in the 8th.  That would be beyond fantastic.  When Papelbon has been bad this year he has been really bad, but I don’t think it’s time to go to Bard.  I hope both Yankee and Sox fans get their wishes and the switch is made. I can’t imagine what we’d hear coming from Papelbon’s mouth if it happened, but I would get my popcorn ready if it goes down.

Here’s an article about one of the newest (and already hated by some) Yankees, Lance Berkman. It’s mainly about what he went through at the trade deadline and what he’s gone through since.  Pretty interesting to note the teams he was ok going to and those he wasn’t.  I can’t imagine why San Diego was ever interested in him, were they going to put him in the OF?  Scary thought.  Anyway it’s an interesting take from his point of view and also take note of the comments below the article.  Only a few fans have commented but they seem to show what a class act Lance was and expect him to help the Yankees in a big way. So do I.

A-Rod takes over as Yanks top Royals

There has been much written about Alex Rodriguez and his substandard season over the last several months, and deservedly so. His triple-slash stats represent career lows across the board and he’s a 35-year-old admitted PED user with a bad hip, so I guess he had it coming it in a way. But for this one August night, Alex reminded everyone that he’s the most talented player on the field whenever he steps on the diamond.

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Easy As One, Two, Three

It’s like he heard me. After A-Rod struck out – swinging through two low-90’s fastballs, mind you – with men on first and second to end the 3rd inning, I took out some frustration on Twitter. “Alex needs to get his shit together,” I ranted. “It’s August already.” Little did I know how much power I truly have.

With the score tied at one, A-Rod led off the 6th against Royals’ starter Sean O’Sullivan, who again befuddled the Yankee lineup with changeup after changeup after changeup. He fed Alex a heavy diet of sinkers down in the zone before accidentally leaving one up in the zone in a 2-1 count, which the Yanks’ cleanup hitter promptly deposited into the leftfield stands to give his team a 2-1 lead. Given the offensive frustration of the first five innings, it felt like a grand slam. Well, not really, but it was good to have the lead.

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The Yanks were up 4-3 in the very next inning (yeah, a lot happened in that 6th inning), and Alex came to the plate with a man on first but didn’t bother to work the count. Former Yankee farmhand Kanekoa Texeira came right after him with the heater, but Alex turned it right around and hit it into the batter’s eye in dead center. Not only did it give the Yanks a much more comfortable three run lead, but it gave us all some hope that A-Rod is turning back into the hitter we all know he can be.

Not satisfied with just the two long balls, the newest addition of the 600 HR club took out some anger on a 96 mph Greg Holland fastball in the 9th, hitting it clear into the fountains beyond the leftfield wall. The majestic blast gave the Yanks a five run lead, their biggest since last Sunday. It was A-Rod’s first three run homer effort since the Bartolo Colon game back in 2005, and the fourth of his career. His night ended with four hits and five runs driven in, and he raised his season OPS by a whopping 31 points in the span of five plate appearances.

Alex’s 7th inning homer was technically the biggest hit of the game, but all together were talking about a .372 WPA effort from the Yanks’ regular third baseman, pretty remarkable since there wasn’t some kind of walk-off hit involved. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Not Bad Luck, Terrible Luck

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Yanks’ starter Phil Hughes settled into a groove after the Royals picked up a quick run in the 1st, retiring 13 of the next 17 men he faced heading into the 6th. With a three run lead, Hughes immediately gave one right back when Wilson Betemit, yes that Wilson Betemit, clubbed a pitch into the rightfield stands for a solo jack. What followed was nothing more than bad luck.

Kile Ka’aihue reached on an infield single, barely beating out the throw by Robbie Cano. Alex Gordon then blooped a single over Ramiro Pena‘s head into shallow left, and Yuniesky Betancourt completed the bad luck trifecta by reaching base when Brett Gardner lost a lazy fly ball in the moon. Nothing was hard hit and most of the time two of those plays result in outs, but there was Hughes, starting down a bases loaded, zero outs situation with a two run lead.

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

With his pitch count creeping up towards the century mark, Hughes and catcher Jorge Posada went right to their comfort zone, the fastball. The impatient Mitch Maier hacked at a first pitch heater, flying out to left and not deep enough to score the run. Chris Getz saw five pitches (all fastballs and cutters) in an at-bat that ended with an RBI ground out. As if the bad luck gods were worried that we forgot they existed, Getz’s grounder was hit far too weakly to turn a double play. Gregor Blanco followed that an all-fastball at-bat, ending the inning with another grounder to first on the fifth pitch. The outs made by Maier and Blanco were equal in terms of WPA impact, decreasing Kansas City’s chances of winning by close to 11% each.

A year or two ago, that’s probably a three or four or more run inning for the opposition. The young neophyte pitcher probably tries to get cute instead of trusting his stuff, leading only to more trouble. But Hughes didn’t do that in this one, he went to his strength regardless of the hitter’s weakness, and battled out an inning with some serious ugly potential. Anytime the other team loads the bases with no outs and manages to only score one run, that’s a win for the pitcher and his defense.

Overall, Hughes allowed nine hits over six innings of work, but he didn’t strike out a batter and walked one. He certainly threw strikes (99 pitches, 71 strikes), but I’m encouraged that he was able to grind out six innings against the BABIP happy Royals. Through 22 starts the 24-year-old has a 3.94 ERA, and I’m pretty sure every one of us would have signed up for that coming out Spring Training.

Leftovers

Trust me, that kid just took the ball to the face.

Alex absolutely stole the show, but let’s not forget that Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson also went deep in this one. Posada’s homer hit some dude in the face (above), and Grandy’s was his third career hit off O’Sullivan, all of which are homers. Nick Swisher, Robbie Cano, and Mark Teixeira all hit balls to the wall as well, including another one by Granderson. If this game would have been played in the Bronx, the Yanks probably would had hit six homers as a team.

Speaking of Grandy, he’s hit a few balls hard the other way in this series, which is a good sign. He’s been a dead pull hitter for a few years now. Going the other way will open up some more holes and the hits will start to drop in soon enough.

Apparently white men can jump.

We all know Teixeira is a stud defensively, but he put on a clinic in this one. He made a leaping grab, a diving stop, a few nice scoops, you name it. He was all over the place, and definitely saved a run or two. Tex also picked up a pair of hits, just like Brett Gardner. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one knock.

Another day, another three scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Those guys have been fantastic for over a month now. I guess the only negative is that Boone Logan actually allowed a lefthanded batter to reach base against him, the first time that’s happened since he hit Ichiro with a pitch at the end of June. But seriously, great work out of him, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson (where’s the high socks, yo?), and Sergio Mitre.

Three homers aside, let’s give A-Rod some props for this being his 1,000th game as a Yankee. Only 42 other players in history have accomplished that. He appeared in 790 games as a Mariner and 485 as a Ranger, yet it still feels like he just got here, no?

The Yanks, Rays, and Red Sox all won, so everything remains status quo in the AL East. Tampa’s two back, Boston six.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Finally, a night without some late inning stress. Here’s the box score, here’s all that other stuff.

Up Next

The Yanks will try for the series win tomorrow afternoon when they send A.J. Burnett to the mound against Bryan Bullington, who I can’t believe is still in baseball.