Romine shines at Futures Game

Jesus Montero is officially out of the Triple-A All-Star Game because he’s still on the disabled list with his sore back. Jorge Vazquez has withdrawn from the Triple-A Homerun Derby due to his recent shoulder injury. For shame.

2011 Futures Game (USA Team 6, World Team 4)
Austin Romine, C: 2 for 2, 1 R – entered the game in the sixth … didn’t get to see the first hit because ESPN2 was busy showing 2001 World Series Game Seven highlights, but the second was a single on a first pitch breaking ball to left, driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth … he took second on the throw home … he also made a nice catch on a foul pop-up at the wall, falling backwards after overrunning it by a step … he had a chance at MVP, but Grant Green took it with the exact same batting line, though both of his hits were doubles … oh well, still a very nice showing

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 loss to Rochester)
Austin Krum, LF, Jorge Vazquez, 1B, Luis Nunez, 2B & Doug Bernier, SS: all 1 for 4 – Krum walked and whiffed … JoVa struck out twice … Nunez doubled, scored, and struck out … Bernier drove in a run and struck out
Greg Golson, CF & Jordan Parraz, RF: both 0 for 3 – Parraz walked and whiffed
Terry Tiffee, DH: 2 for 4, 1 2B
Brandon Laird, 3B: 0 for 4, 1 K
P.J. Pilittere, C: 2 for 4
Pants Lendleton, RHP: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7-0 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – 53 of 76 pitches were strikes (69.8%) … lots of grounders, but he did give up two homers
George Kontos, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 13 of 16 pitches were strikes (81.3%)
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 15 of 27 pitches were strikes (55.6%) … the one hit was an infield single, but he reportedly threw a lot of curveballs early in the count … that’s bad, he should be pounding hitters with his fastball and finishing the curve … a power pitcher pitching backwards tells me he’s not confident in his fastball at all

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Open Thread: 2011 Futures Game

The timing sure worked out well this year. With the All-Star Game being played in Arizona, the Futures Game gets a late start and allows us East Coasters to watch it and the Yankees live without having to flip back and forth. There’s only one Yankees farmhand at the event, Double-A Trenton catcher Austin Romine. He isn’t starting the game but figures to enter in the fifth or sixth inning or so. Here are the starting lineups…

World Team (road)
Starling Marte, CF (Pirates)
Jose Altuve, 2B (Astros)
Yonder Alonso, 1B (Reds)
Dayan Viciedo, DH (White Sox)
Alexi Liddi, 3B (Mariners)
Alfredo Silverio, RF (Dodgers)
Chih-Tsien Chang, LF (Red Sox)
Wilin Rosario, C (Rockies)
Hak-Ju Lee, SS (Rays)

Julio Teheran, RHP (Braves)

USA Team (home)
Jason Kipnis, 2B (Indians)
Manny Machado, SS (Orioles)
Bryce Harper, LF (Nationals)
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (Diamondbacks)
Devin Mesoraco, C (Reds)
Will Middlebrooks, 3B (Red Sox)
James Darnell, DH (Padres)
Wil Myers, RF (Royals)
Gary Brown, CF (Giants)

Tyler Skaggs, LHP (Diamondbacks)

The game starts at 6pm ET, hence the early open thread. You can watch it on ESPN2 of ESPN3.com, which has thoroughly impressed me with the video quality. The regular old ESPN Sunday Night Game has the Mets at the Giants (Pelfrey vs. Cain), but go ahead and talk about whatever your heart desires.

Injury News: Swisher, Soriano, Chavez, Marte

Some injury notes on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, courtesy of Chad Jennings

  • Nick Swisher‘s sore quad is much better and he could have pinch-hit and played the field today if needed. They just played it safe and gave him the day off with the All-Star break coming up, figuring six straight days off would do the trick.
  • Rafael Soriano threw live batting practice today and isn’t all that far off from returning. “He’s getting to a point where we could see him in a [rehab] game fairly quickly,” said Joe Girardi before the game. Soriano is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday.
  • Eric Chavez‘s sore back is still bothering him, but he’s feeling much better and is close to resuming workouts. I still wouldn’t count on him for the second half, anything he gives the team from here on out is a bonus.
  • Damaso Marte is not ready to face hitters but is still throwing bullpen sessions. Pedro Feliciano is still shut down with soreness in his shoulder.

Of course, the biggest injury news concerns Alex Rodriguez‘s torn meniscus. He’s getting a second opinion today, but it seems like everyone involved thinks having surgery now is the best course of action. Like I said yesterday, I’m on board with that.

David Robertson, All-Star (UPDATE: Sabathia too)

Michael Kay just announced during this afternoon’s broadcast that David Robertson has been named to the All-Star Game as a replacement for David Price, who apparently withdrew. Awesome, congrats David.

Update: CC Sabathia was also named to the All-Star Team as a replacement for Jamie Shields, though he can’t pitch in the game because he’s starting today. Alexi Ogando has taken Sabathia’s spot. Good job of watering down the value of being an All-Star, MLB.

Game 88: Before the break

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Jay?? via Creative Commons license)

Today marks the end of the first half of the season, only if you ignore the fact that the halfway point of the season came about the week ago. A win today would guarantee that the Yankees head into the All-Star break no worse than tied for first in the AL East in the loss column, and no worse than five losses up on the Wildcard spot. Considering the doubt surrounding the rotation coming into the season, it’s tough to be disappointed with that. Here’s the starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF
Andruw Jones, RF
Eduardo Nunez, 3B

CC Sabathia, SP

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. enjoy.

Bartolo’s Indian Summer

“None of us can predict what’s gonna happen” – Joe Girardi, March 22, 2011 on the decision to begin the season with Bartolo Colon in the bullpen

As weird as it seems now, Bartolo Colon began the season in the bullpen after losing the 5th starter battle to Freddy Garcia back in March. While Colon had out-pitched Garcia in Spring Training, and while his stuff looked fantastic, there were serious questions about his durability. This wasn’t exactly an unfounded concern – Colon is 38 years old, didn’t pitch at all in the majors last season, and last topped 100 innings back in 2005. “Eater” is a word that comes to mind when one thinks of Bartolo, but it’s in connection with food, not innings.

So thank goodness, in a sense, for Phil Hughes‘ dead arm. As it turned out, Hughes’ injury opened the door for Colon and allowed the Yankees to see what they really had in him. Despite a rough outing last time out, he has really come up in spades for the team. Aided by a shoulder rejuvenated by a controversial stem-cell procedure, Colon has been the second-best starter on the 2011 Yankees. As comeback stories go, this one is almost a bit too good to be true. Indeed, this veteran and two-time All Star is having the best season of his length career, even better than when he beat out Johan Santana for the Cy Young in 2005.

In 2005 Colon pitched 222.2 innings of 3.48 ERA ball for the Angels. His W-L record was sterling, 21-8, and was no doubt the driving force behind him winning the Cy Young. Colon’s K rate was 6.35/9, not exactly the highest strikeout rate of Cy Young winners, but he only handed out 1.74 walks per nine innings. His FIP on the year was 3.75, and his xFIP was 3.91. This year he’s doing even better. He’s struck out 7.90 batters per nine innings so far in 2011 while maintaining his typically low walk rate of 2.20/9. His BABIP is a touch lower than his career norm (and his last outing certainly helped bring it closer to average), but other than that there’s┬áthere’s no indication that Colon has benefited from anything unsustainable or odd. By all measures, this is a career year for Bartolo Colon, and he looks fantastic. His two-seam fastball is a jaw-dropper when it’s on. You can see it here at 0:54.

A lot of analysts have been expecting the Yankees to be in the market for front-line pitching. By all indications, they are. But a lot of the preseason speculation on the topic was predicated on the notion that either A.J. Burnett or Phil Hughes represented the Yankees #2 starter, and that Garcia/Colon/Nova were simply back-end guys designed to soak up innings to be moved out when the reinforcements arrived. No one expected Colon to become that #2 starter for the team. But that’s what he is, and it’s not a mirage. He has the 11th lowest SIERA of any AL pitcher, better than Jon Lester, CC Sabathia and Josh Beckett, albeit in fewer innings.

It’s hard to imagine that a story on the New York Yankees would go relatively underreported, but it seems as if that’s what’s happened with Bartolo. A fair amount of attention has been given to his surgery, but not enough has been given to the fact that he’s having a career season at the ripe old age of 38. There is concern about his durability – the last time he cracked even 100 innings was 2005 – and perhaps the Yankees would be wise to monitor his workload down the stretch. But the fact remains that as of today he represents a viable #2 starter behind CC Sabathia, giving the Yankees flexibility as they head into the trade deadline. These 90 innings from Bartolo and ~1.6 fWAR are no small reason the Yankees are tied with Boston in the loss column for first place in July.

The chapter on this season’s New York Yankees isn’t written yet. It’s barely halfway through. No matter what happens with this club – whether they miss the playoffs, get knocked out, or cruise down the Canyon of Heroes in November through a shower of praise and confetti – there’s no doubt that Bartolo Colon has contributed in a large way to the success of this team. Something Girardi said back in Spring Training now rings true, not only for Spring Training but also as an epitapth for the season at its midpoint: “Bartolo was the wild card in all of this”.