From the please be a cruel joke department, the Yankees will reportedly keep an eye on the recently designated for assignment Jose Guillen. I have absolutely no idea where Guillen would fit in with both Marcus Thames and Austin Kearns already on the roster. He doesn’t get on base (.308 OBP over the last three years), hits for nothing more than decent power (.164), doesn’t have any defensive value (-21.6 three-year UZR), and by all accounts is a bit of a jerk. Am I missing something here? There’s no reason for the Yanks to be interested in him, pass.
At long last, it sounds like two key members of the pitching staff are close to returning. Al Aceves, out since May with a lingering back issue, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow, and if that goes well he will make his first rehab appearance on Tuesday. It’ll be his first game action since hitting the disabled list. I suspect the Yanks will be extra careful given the nature of Aceves’ injury, so he could still be two full weeks away from returning. Either way, that’s the best news we’ve gotten on his condition in weeks.
Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte went ahead and did the bullpen thing today. The braintrust will sit down tomorrow and determine the next step. The initial diagnosis called for four or five weeks on the shelf, and right now he’s on track to return just shy of that if he makes two rehab starts. Good news all around, can’t wait to have them both back.
Tomorrow’s the big day, the first ever FanGraphs and River Ave. Blues Live Discussion in New York City. It will be held at the Florence Gould Hall, which is at 55 E 59th Street (between Park and Madison). The event starts at 9 a.m., and you’ll want to get there early. Ben, Mike, and I (and a few others) are the opening act.
Here’s one last reminder of the details…
NY Baseball (9:00am – 9:40am)
Joe Pawlikowski, Mike Axisa, Benjamin Kabak (All RiverAveBlues.com), Matthew Cerrone (MetsBlog.com), and Mark Simon (ESPN) will be discussing all things baseball in NY. Moderated by Carson Cistulli.
Baseball Media (9:45am – 10:30am)
Jonah Keri (Bloomberg Sports) will host a panel comprised of Will Leitch (Deadspin, New York Magazine), Michael Silverman (Boston Herald), Matthew Cerrone(MetsBlog.com), Alex Speier (WEEI.com), and David Biderman (WSJ) to discuss how baseball media coverage has changed in recent years and will continue to evolve.
Baseball Stats (10:40am – 11:15am)
Jon Sciambi (ESPN), Mitchel Lichtman, Sky Kalkman (Beyond the Boxscore), Dave Cameron, and David Appelman will discuss where advanced baseball stats are right now and where they’ll be headed. Moderated by Carson Cistulli.
Bloomberg Sports Presentation (11:20 – 11:35)
Bloomberg Sports will make a presentation of a brand new product.
FanGraphs Q&A (11:40 – End)
Dave Cameron, Carson Cistulli, Bryan Smith, Joe Pawlikowski, Mike Axisa, and David Appelman will take questions until we’re officially kicked out (a little after 12:00).
Afterparty (3:30pm – Game Over)
Additionally, we’re going to host a game-watching party for attendees to gather at a local watering hole and view that afternoon’s Boston-New York match-up together. Those who make it to the event will be invited to join us for several more hours of fun later in the afternoon. Details and directions will be given at the event.
You can get your tickets for $15 plus $1.36 surcharge in advance, or risk a sellout and pay $20, cash only, at the door.
We hope to see plenty of RABbers there.
A reader has a pair of tickets available for Monday’s game against the Red Sox. The seats are located in Section 224, Row 13, Seats 15 & 16, which are on the third base side, middle deck. Face value is $150 per ticket, so it’s $300 for the pair. Here’s the caveat, you have to be able to meet the seller in Astoria, Queens to pick them up.
Remember, it’s a day game Monday, with a 2:05pm start. The pitching matchup features Dustin Moseley vs. Jon Lester. Email me if interested, and I’ll put you in contact with the seller.
Update: The seller says he could meet in Manhattan or Queens.
Via Jim Callis, the Yankees have signed 6th round pick Gabe Encinas to an above slot $300,000 deal. Encinas, the 205th overall pick, was rated as the 133rd best prospect in the draft by Baseball America, and 95th by Keith Law.
Drafted out of a California high school, the 6-foot-4, 200 lb. Encinas is arguably the best pitching prospect the Yanks drafted this year. His fastball sits in the low-90’s and he also offers a sharp curve and one of the best changeups among this year’s high school crop, but what sets Encinas apart is his smooth delivery and feel for pitching. He’s proven adept at changing speeds and setting hitters up. The signing deadline is just ten days away, so there’s going to be a whole bunch of signings trickling in soon.
When it comes to Javy Vazquez facing the Red Sox, one memory stands out more vividly than the rest. It’s led to the perception that Javy is not a big-game player, especially against the Red Sox. Ozzie Guillen didn’t help change that perception when he questioned Vazquez’s fortitude. And then Javy didn’t help his own case when he opened the season with a series of terrible starts. Plenty has changed since Javy had a start skipped against these very Red Sox — including the fact that they’re not at all the same Red Sox that the Yankees faced in May.
Even more, of course, has changed since 2004. That year not only did Javy serve up the effective season-ending pitch, but he also fared horribly against the Red Sox in his four starts. He lasted just 22.2 innings and gave up 16 runs, 14 earned, on the power of eight Red Sox home runs. He struck out 25 and walked just eight, good signs for sure, but those eight homers ruined him. It’s understandable, then, why that perception was created that year.
What’s not understandable is why it has carried over six years later. The Red Sox used 25 different position players at various points during the 2004 season, and of those only two remain on the team. One of them is not only on the DL and won’t play in this series, but also never faced Vazquez in 2004 — and is just 3 for 18 with eight strikeouts in his career against him. The other, of course, is not quite the hitter he once was, producing a .408 wOBA in 2004 and .380 this year.
In other words, Vazquez’s historic production against the Red Sox means little, because most of those players are no longer on the team. There need be no worry about Manny and his 8 for 22 with two homers line, because Manny is in LA and injured. Dustin Pedroia’s 8 for 15? Non-factor. We only need to worry about the current Red Sox, and even then the results can be a bit misleading. For instance, Mike Lowell might have a career .817 OPS against Vazquez in 49 PA, but since 2006 he’s 1 for 10 with a single.
Three current Red Sox have hit Vazquez particularly hard. J.D. Drew is the best of the bunch, going 10 for 28 with two doubles and four homers in 32 career PA. That rests mostly on a 5 for 10, three-homer performance that came all the way back in 2005. In the five PA he’s had since he’s 1 for 5 — though the one was a homer. Adrian Beltre has destroyed Vazquez, going 15 for 34 with three doubles and two homers — though, surprisingly, that has led to just 5 RBI. They haven’t faced since 2008, when Beltre went 2 for 3 with a homer. And then there’s Ortiz, the lone holdover from 2004, who is 8 for 25 with two doubles and two homers in the regular season, plus 2 for 3, both singles, in the postseason.
Other than that, Vazquez has either performed well against the current Sox or otherwise has not faced them. Victor Martinez, for example, is 5 for 26. Jacoby Ellsbury, Marco Scutaro, and Jed Lowrie have yet to record a hit. Eric Patterson is just 1 for 5, though the one was a homer. Bill Hall is 1 for 3.
What does that mean for Vazquez facing the Sox tonight? Absolutely nothing. Not only are these all small samples — yes, even the 30-plus PA crew — but they represent a time when Vazquez was a different pitcher. We’ve seen the changes this year. HIs fastball velocity is down. His slider, the main weapon during his superb 2009 season, has been placed in his back pocket in favor of a two-seamer and, more recently, his changeup. So while some Sox hitters have had success, and some failures, against Vazquez in the past, only one of them, Youkilis, has faced Vazquez this year, and he won’t be in the starting lineup for the rest of the season.
Vazquez might get bombed tonight. He might plow through the depleted Sox lineup. But whatever the outcome it won’t stem from something that happened six years ago. It won’t even stem from something that happened two years ago. It will depend only on how the Sox hitters are seeing the ball, and how well Vazquez is delivering it. The rest is just lore and mythology.