Just one-quarter of the way through the season, and we’re already getting anonymous stories from Jon Heyman about Hank Steinbrenner’s regretting not making the Santana deal. According to Heyman, Hank is upset with Cashman for Phil Hughes’ and Ian Kennedy’s poor starts, never mind the fact that Hal counts too and that there are myriad reasons why the Santana trade was just going to be a bad deal. This is also the same Jon Heyman that called the Red Sox’s signing of Hideki Okajima the 19th best free agent signing of all time so I’d take that with a ton of salt. · (21) ·
Part of what makes the draft so much fun is the element of the unknown. Very few fans have actually seen these kids play, making it easy to conjure up images of superhuman hitters with menacing stances and 24-inch biceps, or pitchers with lightning quick arms, video game control and breaking pitches that defy gravity. That, of course, is far from reality.
Thanks to the intra-net, regular saps like me are now able to see clips of these kids in action, providing short glimpses into the future. I’ve scoured of the information superhighway for clips of some of the most exciting prospects in this year’s draft class, and am presenting them here for your viewing pleasure.
Let’s start with my personal favorite, prep RHP Gerrit Cole. Here’s a clip of Cole striking out the final batter of his 2 hit, 10 strikeout complete game shutout in Game 1 of the California Interscholarship Federation Southern Section playoffs.
Lots of shouting going on in the IPK thread. I think it’s a bit overblown. He threw more strikes this time, did a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground, and got through innings with fewer pitches, which is an improvement over his starts in April. Of course, he was a bit wild at times, which led to some mistake pitches that went for extra bases. It’s something he can look to improve next outing. Of course, he has to go out and do it. That’s a completely different story.
Yet, Kennedy wasn’t the only problem yesterday. Yeah, it’s tough to score six runs every game to overcome the five your rookie starter surrendered. But if you’re scoring none, one, and two runs a game, well, not even a staff of aces is going to bring you to the playoffs.
The Yankees need an offensive jolt like nothing else. But how? What would it take for the team to turn this ship around, hit like they’re advertised to do, and, most importantly, drive in runners on base? I’ve got a few ideas. After the jump, the top 5 things the Yanks can do to boost that offense.
Via PeteAbe comes some news on All Star Game coaches. Terry Francona, the AL manager, has invited Yanks’ manager Joe Girardi to join him on the All Star Game coaching staff. That’s a nice gesture for Francona, but I have to believe some external pressure may have been applied here. Sadly, Clint Hurdle did not ask Joe Torre to join him in the NL dugout. Despite the acrimonious divorce last fall, Torre deserves to be in uniform in the Bronx for this game. It’s a shame he won’t be. · (11) ·
Jason Giambi has a deep, dark secret. Deeper than his compulsion to sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door, and darker than his dream of growing up to be a heavy-metal musician.
The deepest, darkest secret harbored by the New York Yankees first baseman is that whenever he is in a prolonged hitting funk, he wears a gold lamé, tiger-stripe thong under his uniform. “I only put it on when I’m desperate to get out of a big slump,” he confides.
Over Giambi’s checkered career in the Bronx, he has left the “golden thong” in the lockers of slumping teammates Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon, Robin Ventura, and Robinson Cano. “All of them wore it and got hits,” he reports. “The thong works every time.”
So, yeah. Between Kyle Farnsworth’s peanut butter cookies and Jason Giambi’s underwear, I think I know more about the Yankees than I ever wanted to.
Meanwhile, says Giambi of his retirement: “After A-Rod retires, he wants to be a real estate mogul, the next Donald Trump. I could care less. As long as I can have a fast boat and a margarita machine and can light my hair on fire, I’ll be just fine.”
Jason Giambi, lighting his hair on fire. I have no words.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out. Chad Jennings says they’ll play two tomorrow. Homer Bailey-Dan Giese match-up in game one of the double-dip.
Double-A Trenton (7-2 win over Portland) they beat Justin Masterson during the regular season last year, then they beat him again during the postseason, and then again tonight. Awesome
Ramiro Pena: 2 for 4, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 K
Austin Jackson: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB – 0 for his last 11
Colin Curtis & Jose Tabata: both 0 for 3, 1 K – Curtis drove in a run with a sac fly … Tabata was hit by a pitch
Edwar Gonzalez: 1 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 K
Chris Malec: 3 for 4, 3 R, 1 2B
Kevin Russo: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Jason Jones: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 8-9 GB/FB
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – he’s moved way faster than I ever imagined he would
We all know and love Krazy Kyle Farnsworth. He’s the one we love to hate, coming out of the bullpen to give us all heart attacks, and despite his successes this year, we all fear that he’s just one bad inning away from melting down completely.
But what does Krazy Kyle, the 100-mph flame thrower, do in his spare time? Why, he bakes, of course! In a piece that we inexplicably missed during the dog days of Spring Training, Mark Feinsand wrote a piece about the man behind the pitcher. It’s priceless:
Anyone who has seen Kyle Farnsworth unleash his 100 mph heater, daring the hitter to take his best shot, knows one thing about one of the game’s most aggressive pitchers: He is a competitor who puts everything he’s got into each pitch, sometimes at the expense of his command.
But the mound isn’t the only place where Farnsworth shows his competitive side. “We have a bake-off every year and the kids are the judges,” says Shayla Pert, his fiancée. “He always wins; I think he pays them.”
Farnsworth laughs upon hearing this, though Pert quickly clarifies, admitting to his superiority when it comes to their culinary skills. “He’s a great baker,” she says. “He’s Betty Crocker. He makes the best peanut butter cookies ever.”
Yes, folks, Kyle Farnsworth is a baker. I wish we could see him with his Betty Crocker apron on. That must be adorably terrifying.
The best part — OK, one of the best parts; it’s all pretty great — of Feinsand’s piece were the quotes from Farnsworth’s BFF Scott Proctor. “Farnsy’s a guy who doesn’t warm up to a lot of people,” Proctor says. “He’s very reserved and withdrawn at the ballpark, but once you get him away from that and get through that brick wall he puts up, he’s one of those guys you can count on at a time of need.”
As for Farnsworth himself, the article discusses his home life with his fiancée Shyla Pert and their children — Stone, the couple’s son, and two other children from her previous marriage. Feindsand wraps it up with a quote from Kyle: “The numbers haven’t been the way I think they should be, but I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I have given my all every single day.”
As much as I’ve been annoyed at Farnsworth, I certainly believe him, and anytime he wants to start doling out peanut butter cookies, I’ll take one.
Fresno State RHP Tanner Scheppers, a surefire first round pick in next month’s Rule 4 draft, suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder and will be out of action a minimum of 6 weeks. The injury cripples his draft stock, and this could now be a similar situation to what Mark Melancon went through in 2006. Given the overall lack of … quality players in this years draft, I couldn’t see waiting past the 4th or 5th round to snatch him and offer first round money. Do ya thing Opp. (h/t MLBTR) · (17) ·
The Yanks and Devil Rays are still slugging it out, and the three of us will all be out for the evening by the time this game wraps up. As the Yanks trail the Rays, though, we can talk briefly about Ian Kennedy’s return from the Minors.
On the surface,the numbers aren’t that pretty. He gave up five earned runs on two home runs — his second and third allowed of the season — in just five innings of work. His ERA is holding steady on the season around 8.48. But despite these numbers, there’s still a lot to like from Kennedy’s start tonight.
First, we can look at his pitch count and breathe a sigh of relief. While ol’ quick-to-the-bullpen Girardi yanked Kennedy after just five innings, it wasn’t because he had thrown an astronomical amount of pitched. In fact, Kennedy threw just 78 pitches and 49 of them (or 63 percent) for strikes. Except for a brief spell in the fourth, he wasn’t shy about throwing the balls over the plate and attacking hitters. This is a big change for Kennedy.
Next — and I touched upon it briefly above — his entire approach to pitching was better. He was content throwing strikes and letting hitters put the ball in the play. He had seven ground ball outs and five air outs, and he did only allow five hits while keeping his walk total down. His approach was a heckuva lot better than watching Kei Igawa chuck waist-high fastballs at the opposing hitters. You can see what Kennedy has, and it shows promise.
I know a lot of Yankee fans don’t like Ian Kennedy’s stuff. They see him as some soft-tossing junk-ball pitcher whom the Yanks should use as trade bait, but that’s just not the case. Kennedy doesn’t have the electric stuff of a Joba Chamberlain, but he will succeed. As a first step back to the Majors today, his outing could have gone a whole lot better, but it could have been way worse. He showed a marked improvement from the way he was throwing in April, and no matter what, I’d rather see Kennedy up there than Igawa any day.
Well, that was a short exile. Just 11 days after his demotion, Ian Kennedy is back with the Yankees. We’ve all certainly debated the pluses and minuses of his demotion and his quick return for the last 11 days. Let’s see how he does now that crunch time is here.
While in the Minors, Kennedy made two starts, one shortened so that he could pitch today. In 8.1 innings with Scranton, he allowed two hits and no walks while striking out eight. Those numbers are a far cry from the 8.37 Big League ERA he currently sports. In 23.2 innings prior to his demotion, Kennedy had allowed 28 hits and had a 20:15 BB:K ratio. Opponents were hitting .298 against him.
Kennedy’s biggest problem in April was his pitch count. He kept running up the counts early on, averaging over 7 pitches per out. If he’s throwing strikes today and finishing off hitters, all will be well.
For the Rays, Jim Duquette’s biggest mistake takes the mound. Scott Kazmir — yes, another lefty — makes his third start of the season. He’s 1-1 on the year. During his first start back from the DL, he gave up four runs, three earned, in four innings to the Red Sox. Last week, he shut down the Angels over six innings, allowing three hits while striking out six. He has walked three batters in each of his two starts.
The Yanks are sticking their righties out there against Kazmir. Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui both have the day off, but why Morgan Ensberg is hitting above the very hot Cano is beyond me. Game time’s at 4:10 p.m. Starting the Mets’ series at .500 sure would be nice. The Amazin’s, by the way, have just dropped their third out of four to a bunch of softball girls. Hopefully, the Yanks can avoid a similar fate against a much better club than the Nats.