Maury Brown, the man behind the excellent Biz of Baseball site, sat down with Tim Marchman for a Q-and-A on New York sports. Marchman is, in my opinion, one of the more under-appreciated columnists in New York, mostly because he writes for The Sun, a paper that doesn’t get the same level of attention as the other New York dailies.
Marchman, who’s just a few years older than the three of us, talks about his journey to the sports pages of The Sun from Allegheny College and, of course, the state of New York baseball this season.
Draft signings are starting to trickle in: David Adams and Addison Maruszack, the Yanks’ 3rd & 17th round picks, respectively, have agreed to terms (don’t know the signing bonuses). Adams had a subpar junior year at Virginia, hitting only .286-.384-.411 with a 39-41 K/BB ratio after posting consecutive seasons with .950+ OPS’s as a freshman & sophomore. Maruszack, who you may remember from the Yanks’ ST game against the University of South Florida, hit .364-.474-.494 this year, and is a prime candidate for conversion to catcher.
(h/t the posters at NYYFans’ MiL Forum) · (7) ·
One of their injured young guns took a first step forward yesterday afternoon. Ian Kennedy, recovering from bursitis and a strained lat, threw a 30-pitch array of changeups and fastballs in front of his pitching coaches. He will now return to Tampa to continue his rehab at the Yankee complex, but larger questions loom on the horizon. Right now, Kennedy has no place in the rotation, and the righty, who struggled prior to his injury, will have to earn a spot on the club. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him to make a few starts in Scranton to regain that ol’ confidence and refine his stuff once he is eligible to come off the DL. · (40) ·
Game 1 (3-2 win over Syracuse, walk-off style) this was the completion of yesterday’s game, which was suspended due to rain
Brett Gardner: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 2 SB – sac bunted the winning run into scoring position … going back to tonight’s open thread, bunting is a big part of being a #9 hitter, and Gardner certainly can do it
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 3, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 HBP – walk-off single
Jason Lane & Nick Green: both 0 for 3 – Lane drew a walk … Green drove in a run & K’ed twice
Ben Broussard: 0 for 4
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB
Matt Carson: 3 for 4 – hitting .357 in limited duty
Bernie Castro: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 K
Alan Horne: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HB, 2-3 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) – nice job in his first start back
David Robertson: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3-2 GB/FB – nasty
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Billy Traber: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – struck out 2 lefties & a switch hitter
Melky Cabrera has a special place in the hearts of Yankees’ fans. We watched him (and his .322 OBP) jump from Double-A all the way to bigs as a 20 year old in 2005, then watched in horror as he looked overmatched at the plate and misplayed routine flyballs into inside-the-park homers in Fenway Park. He returned the following season because of injuries, and has since established himself as a passable everyday centerfielder. He’s one of our own; he’s paid his dues and earned a job.
This season though has been a tale of two Melky’s. His Opening Day homer gave us all hope that he was in line for the breakout season that many predicted was coming, and as recently as May 4th it looked like the breakout was legit. After hitting .291-.359-.505 with a team leading six longballs through his first 31 games, Melky has become an offensive blackhole. The numbers aren’t pretty: .257-.293-.284 with a whopping three extra base hits (all doubles) in his last 30 games. A few days ago he misplayed a potential double play ball, and if nothing else a routine line drive hit right at him, into a bunch of unearned runs. Today he weakly grounded out to first to kill the Yankees’ 9th inning rally against Royals’ closer Joakim Soria, sliding into the bag after being told for two full seasons now not to slide into first.
Enter Brett Gardner. The Yanks’ third round pick in 2005 has spend the first two-and-a-half years of his professional career terrorizing the opposition, whether it be by working counts (.387 career OBP), spraying hits to all fields (.290 BA), or running wild on the basepaths (141 SB). He’s added another much needed element to this game this year: power. Through 60 games he’s already tripled his homer total of the previous two season combined, and is slugging at a .454 clip, almost 80 points better than his career output coming into the year.
Having seen time in both left and centerfield this year, as well as a handful of pinch hit & run opportunities, Gardner is poised to take over as an extra outfielder in the big leagues this year. He’s every bit as capable as Melky when it comes to running down balls in the outfield, and while his arm isn’t as strong, his speed and on-base skills make him a much deadlier offensive player. It is worth nothing that Gardner is just about a full year older than Melky.
While it’s hard to believe that Gardner couldn’t be a viable extra outfielder right now, we’re not here to discuss a bench job. Is it time to take Melky Cabrera and his limp noodle bat out of the lineup and replace it with Gardner’s speed demon game on a full-time basis? Could he perform any worse?
Discuss it here, and play nice.
Over their last 20 games heading into today, the Kansas City Royals were 3-17. Over his last four starts prior to today, Luke Hochevar was 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA and an 11:18 K:BB ratio over 23 innings.
So clearly the Yankees had this game in their pocket. They assumed they had won it and simply didn’t show up ready to play. That clearly must be what accounted for their pathetic 3-2 loss at the hands of a Royals team that is now 4-17 over their 21 games.
Now, in reality, we know that a pitcher — especially one with Luke Hochevar’s pedigree — can emerge to shut down the Yankees. We know that Mariano Rivera is human and threw an unnecessary inning in during yesterday’s 96-degree game only to lose today. We know that this one loss is not the end of the world. But it is a maddening sign of an increasingly frustrating Yankee team.
Over that four-start span, Hochevar had managed to throw just 241 of 420 pitches for strikes. Today, the Yanks managed to draw no walks against the young righthander, and the only blemish on his record was an A-rod home run. It was one of those days.
Meanwhile, Mike Mussina was masterful again with nothing to show for it. He went eight strong and allowed two runs on a Miguel Olivo home run. The pitch — a hanging breaking ball — was the only mistake Moose made all day. He was denied his tenth win when Mariano Rivera gave up a home run to Jose Guillen.
And that brings me to a question: At what point do the Yankees stop pitching to Jose Guillen this weekend? At what point do they stop throwing a fastball hitter fastballs? Guillen went 9 for 16 against the Yankees this weekend with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs. Rivera threw him too good a pitch on 0-2, and Guillen smacked it over the wall for a game-winning home run. That was a poor pitch.
Finally, before I go throw my Yankee frustration with this game away, let’s talk about Melky. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Melky Cabrera took a ball and then pulled a Robinson Cano. He swung at a pitch, grounded out and slid into first base, out by about six feet. It was one pathetic display of hitting.
First, Cabrera shouldn’t be swinging in that situation. Joakim Soria had already walked and hit a batter. Melky must make him throw a strike and perhaps two before swinging. Second, the next time Melky slides into first base, Tony Pena should just bop him on the head. Enough.
At some point, the Yanks have to figure out what they have in Melky. Since hitting his last home run on May 4, Melky is hitting .250 with an OPS well below .500. Those are not the numbers of a Major League outfielder, but we’ll have more on the Melky debate at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Stay tuned.
Here’s to .500, once again.
After months and months of anticipation, the draft has finally come and gone, and all I have to say is: Thank God. It’s fun trying to find hidden gems and discussing who your team should take, but the actual event can be like watching linoleum curl. Televising the draft was a great idea, and it’s amazing how far draft coverage has come in the last 10-15 years, but it’s time to go back to the old rapid fire conference call. Four hours for 46 picks is just too long, sorry.
The Yanks employed their tried and true philosophy of taking the best talent available on their board regardless of bonus demands. While they didn’t land any of the sexy names in the later rounds like we’re accustomed too, Damon Oppenheimer & Co. still selected a bevy of high ceiling players late to supplement the talent they took at the top of the draft.
Obviously, the big prize is first rounder Gerrit Cole, a UCLA recruit who was ranked as one of top three high school pitchers in the country all year long, but other prep pitchers like Brett Marshall, Mikey O’Brien and Matt Richardson all bring a similar package of stuff, projectability and youth. To diversify the portfolio, so to speak, the Yanks also took safer college arms like Jeremy Bleich, Scott Bittle and Luke Greinke. Bleich and prepsters Blake Monar & Chris Dwyer give the club a solid group of southpaws for the farm system, which is all but devoid of quality lefties.
On the position player side, the Yanks went for youth and hitting ability up the middle with high schoolers Corban Joseph, Chris Smith, Garrison Lassiter and Sam Mende, and balanced them out with proven college bats like David Adams, Dan Brewer, Jack Rye and Luke Anders. Kyle Higashioka and Ben McMahan add to an already impressively deep crop of young catching, and Addison Maruszak is a prime conversion candidate.
Overall, I’m pleased with the haul. They landed high upside talent on the mound at up-the-middle positions, which are the critical areas of any baseball team. You can see all of the Yanks picks here. Selecting the players was only half the battle. Now they have to get them signed.
I can only wonder if we’d be going for a sweep right now if Friday night’s ump didn’t need lasik. Yeah, I know, it does no good to complain about what we cannot change, but in my mind, it’s still bases loaded and two outs with Cano coming to the plate.
Still, there are worse things than taking three out of four. Hell, we might be fighting for a split here if the offense didn’t go crazy on Saturday. So things are looking up, if only slightly.
And how ’bout Damon and Giambi? Plenty of people were counting them out during April, but they’ve been the catalysts of this offense for the past month or so. Though they’ll both certainly cool off at some point — especially Damon, who is now hitting far, far above his career averages — they’ve kept the team afloat when the rest of the pieces weren’t functioning optimally.
Our ace Mike Mussina (I say that only half-jokingly) takes the hill today. He missed Kansas City last time around.
And on the mound, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina
While in Trenton to profile Mark Melancon, Times reporter Tyler Kepner sat down for an interview with Austin Jackson as well. The Q-and-A — posted on the Bats blog — offers up some insight into Jackson’s decision to forgo basketball for baseball and how the youngster’s speed can change a game. · (5) ·