Late rally falls short in loss to Reds


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees continue to be plagued by the same ol’ problems — underwhelming starting pitching and a lack of hitting with men on base — but they had the tying run on third and the winning run on second in the bottom of the ninth against the Reds on Saturday. They were thisclose. Let’s recap…

  • Nova’s Dozen: The good news is that Ivan Nova struck out a career-high 12. The bad news is that he allowed five runs in six innings, including a three-run bomb by Joey Votto that essentially put the game away. Nova’s right ankle/foot seemed to be fine but he’s still not right. He again made several mistakes up in the zone but did a good job burying his breaking balls for swinging strikes — he had 23 swings and misses on the afternoon. Ivan still needs to find a balance between all these strikeouts (good!) and extra-base hits allowed (bad!).
  • Chip Away: The Yankees were playing from behind all afternoon, but they slowly chipped away at Cincinnati’s lead with a solo homer from Russell Martin, a run-scoring double from Raul Ibanez, and a solo homer from Jayson Nix before putting together an almost game-tying rally in the ninth. They went hitless with runners in scoring position until that ninth inning.
  • Almost: After getting blown away by Aroldis Chapman in the eighth — he went to a 3-1 count on all three batters, but they all made outs — the Yankees put something together against Sean Marshall. Ibanez (double off a lefty!) and Swisher started the inning with hits then Andruw Jones and Nix did the same after Martin’s strikeout. Derek Jeter came to the plate with the Yankees down a run and he tried his hardest to ground into a double play on the first pitch, but he beat the relay at first. Curtis Granderson managed to turn a 3-0 count into a 3-2 count before grounding out to end the game. I’ll never understand why they turned him loose on 3-0, but whatever. Take the walk and let Robbie Cano bat with the bases juiced. They had a chance to tie but couldn’t get that last run in.
  • Leftovers: David Phelps allowed what ultimately proved to be the winning run when he made a great diving catch and immediately threw the ball away trying to double the runner off first … Ibanez (two), Swisher (two), and Nix (three!) had multiple hits while the 2-3-4 hitters went 0-for-12 with a walk.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Call me crazy, but I feel like the Yankees are on the verge of something big. I feel an offensive explosion coming on, and I hope it happens when I’m in attendance tomorrow. Aces CC Sabathia and Johnny Cueto square off in Sunday’s rubber game.

Mustelier has huge night in win

LHP Nik Turley left yesterday’s game after three innings because his blister problem flared up again. That’s both good and bad news. It’s bad because you don’t want him to miss any time but good because it’s not something more serious. Meanwhile, RHP Jose Ramirez was placed on the DL the other day with a lat strain. That’s another one for the “could be worse” pile. OF Ray Kruml was placed on the DL to make room on the roster for the recently claimed Matt Antonelli.

I need a breather, so you get bullet points tonight…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): Ronnie Mustelier had three hits including a pair of doubles and Jack Cust went deep. Kevin Russo and Brandon Laird also doubled and Frankie Cervelli had a pair of knocks. Adam Warren allowed five runs in six innings but also struck out seven. Juan Cedeno, Chase Whitley, and Manny Delcarmen each threw an effective inning of relief.
  • Double-A Trenton (win): Corban Joseph had three singles and Cody Johnson continued his big season with two doubles. David Adams went hitless while playing the field. Adam Miller threw four scoreless in his first Double-A start before giving way to a parade of uninteresting relievers.
  • High-A Tampa (loss): Ramon Flores (two hits) and J.R. Murphy (one hit) each doubled while Rob Segedin chipped in a single. Southpaw Matt Tracy allowed two runs (one earned) in 4.2 IP with three strikeouts and seven ground ball outs.
  • Low-A Charleston (win): Dante Bichette Jr., Tyler Austin, and Gary Sanchez each doubled while backup catcher Francisco Arcia continued his hot hitting with a homer. Mason Williams and Angelo Gumbs both took 0-for-4s. Nothing noteworthy happened on the mound.

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.