Game 101: One or two?

I love it when the Yankees do this to opposing pitchers. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

The Rays already beat the lowly Tigers today, so tonight’s game will determine if the Yankees go into this weekend’s series in Tampa one game up, or two games up. Of course they’d love to have that extra cushion, but they’re going to have to survive Dustin Moseley’s first start of the season tonight. Joe Girardi indicated that Moseley is good for up to 100 pitches tonight, he was starting in Triple-A Scranton after all, so hopefully they manage to squeeze six innings out of him while working Indians’ starter Mitch Talbot over.

Here’s the lineup, sans a resting Jorge Posada

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, DH
Gardner, LF
Cervelli, C
Curtis, RF

And on the bump, it’s one of the Chad Ho Moseley monster.

No weather issues tonight, thankfully. First pitch is set for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Yanks’ interest in Wigginton has cooled

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees’ interest in Orioles utility man Ty Wigginton appears to be cooling. They expressed interest in him earlier this month as part of their never-ending search for bench help. Can’t say I’m surprised, he’s hit .211/.302/.314 in his last 222 plate appearances dating back to late May.

RAB on The Shore Sports Report

Just a reminder, my weekly appearance on The Shore Sports Report with Mike Krenek and Joe Giglio is coming up at 6:05pm ET today. You can listen in on either FOX Sports 1030 AM or WOBM 1160 AM, and I’m willing to bet that you’ll be able to stream it online via one of those links as well.

Mark Teixeira’s new stance

As I was watching the Yankees pound Fausto Carmona last night, something caught my eye. To make sure I wasn’t crazy, I consulted both Joe and Ben, who confirmed my suspicion: Mark Teixeira has opened his stance. Not from last year either, I’m talking about from just last month. Given his horrible start and recent hot streak, it makes sense that he and Kevin Long tinkered and made some adjustments to help right the ship, but usually the untrained eye can’t pick those adjustments up.

Of course, I had to confirm this first. In order to avoid any issues with camera angle and what not, I screen cap’d at-bats from two home games. The top image comes from the June 2nd game vs. Baltimore (the Phil Hughes-Brad Bergeson matchup), and bottom is the July 16th game vs. the Rays (the first game after the break). Make sure you click for a larger view…

You can see Jamie Shields bending over to fix his pant leg in the bottom image. Tex is at the start of a practice swing in the meantime, which is why his hands are a bit lower, but his feet do not move at all. I just wanted to make sure I got the batter’s box in the shot to use as a reference, and Shields was in the way whenever he was on the rubber. Tex’s hands go back to their usual spot once the Shields gets ready to throw the pitch.

So anyway, you can clearly see that Tex has opened up. His front foot is closer to the edge of the batter’s box, and there’s more real estate between his feet. There are plenty of reasons why a batter would open up his stance, but the first two are obvious. First and foremost, it helps the batter see the ball better simply by providing a better line of sight towards the pitcher. Perhaps it’s helped Tex recognize offspeed pitches earlier in the pitch’s flight, he definitely doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by them like he was in April and May.

Secondly, opening the stance helps the batter get around better on pitches in the inner half. Tex has been pulling more balls to rightfield with authority lately (spray chart during struggles, and after), hence his increased power performance. Although we know that correlation does not equal causation, it does stand to reason that opening his stance has helped Tex do a better job of getting the fat part of the bat on inside pitches.

I haven’t checked to see if Teixeira has also opened up when batting righthanded, but I’m not too concerned about that. Righthanders were killing him earlier this year, but he was performing well against southpaws. I’m not saying this new stance is why the Yanks’ first baseman has turned his season around over the last month or so, but it’s certainly interesting to see.

Yanks have kicked the tires on Bloomquist, out on Dunn

Update (4:00 p.m.): In what must be a cruel and horrible joke, Jerry Crasnick reports that the Yankees have checked in on Royals’ utility player Willie Bloomquist. I know the Yanks need bench help, but that’s no reason to go out and trade for one of the worst players in baseball. The 32-year-old is a career .298 wOBA hitter, but has managed to underperform that with a .294 wOBA this year. There’s also another $1.05M left on his contract through the end of the season. Bloomquist is definitely versatile, with a ton of experience at every position but pitcher and catcher. Still, the guy stinks (0.0 WAR, woo!). I’d rather see Eduardo Nunez get a shot.

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal says the Yanks are now out on Adam Dunn, and Joel Sherman explains why. Basically, the Yanks are worried about how Dunn does not want to DH, would have to adjust to a new league and a pennant race and carries an extremely high asking price. For similar reasons, the Rays are reportedly out of the running as well. Of course, based on how these things have gone so far, I expect the introductory press conference to be no later than Saturday morning.

An Adam Dunn Alternative

As the trade deadline approaches we’re going to see the Yankees connected to many, many players just because of who they are. Every other team wants to get the Yanks involved simply because it drives up the prices for everyone else. We know they’re prioritizing bullpen and bench help, but that hasn’t stopped Brian Cashman from window shopping for other stuff. Sometimes there’s a deal you just can’t pass up.

Jon Heyman said the Yanks were still in the hunt for Adam Dunn yesterday, and one ESPN Radio report even called them the front-runners to land him. Of course we’ve already seen this movie twice this year; the Yanks were also rumored to be the the front-runners for Cliff Lee and Dan Haren earlier this month, and we know how that turned out. I’m taking these reports with a hefty grain of salt from now on.

Anyway, I’ve already said what I had to say about bringing Dunn to the Yankees, though now it sounds like the cost is going to prohibitive. They apparently asked the Rays for Matt Garza, which zooms right past crazytown and into insultinglydelusionalville. There’s another big time lefthanded power threat out there though, one that might even fit with the Yanks better than Dunn. His name: Luke Scott.

(AP Photo/Rob Carr)

The former Astro and current Oriole is one of the best hitters in the game that no one talks about. He’s hitting .287/.354/.567 on the season, a .393 wOBA that would be bested by just one Yankee, Robbie Cano. Although this, his age-32 season, is likely a career year, Scott has posted a .364 wOBA over the last three seasons, better than guys like Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, Hideki Matsui, Victor Martinez … the list goes on and on.  He also doesn’t have much of a platoon split (.371 wOBA vs. RHP, .341 vs. LHP in his career), so he’s a viable everyday designated hitter. Clearly, the guy can flat out hit at the big league level and in the AL East. He’s done it for three years now.

Defensively, Scott isn’t as bad as you might think. His three year UZR in left is rock solid at +3.8, but he’s not going to supplant Brett Gardner anytime soon. It is nice to have that option available though, in case of injury or if the Yanks decide to sell high on Gardner and trade him this offseason or something. Scott can also handle first base in the pinch should Mark Teixeira ever need a day off.

There’s about $1.525M left on Scott’s contract this year, and he’s still under team control as an arbitration eligible player in both 2011 and 2012, so he’s not a rental player. Should he get too expensive through arbitration, which is very possible considering this season’s performance, the Yanks could always non-tender him and try to re-sign him at a discount, or just flip him in a trade. There are always takers for guys who can hit.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

No, Scott is not likely to maintain a .390+ wOBA level of performance over the next two seasons, but he still has plenty of value if he slides back into a .360-ish wOBA level. A player that posts a .360 wOBA with league average defense in left for 200 plate appearances and another 400 at designated hitter is a 2.1 WAR player based on Sky Kalkman’s calculator, which is worth about $8.4M in production based on the current market. His trade value comes in at $6.4M assuming he is a no-compensation free agent or is not offered arbitration, which is equivalent to a Grade-B pitching prospect. Would you deal David Phelps or Ivan Nova within the division for Scott? I know I would.

Of course there’s a big obstacle standing in the way of any Yanks-O’s trade: Peter Angelos. The Orioles’ owner despised George Steinbrenner and his team, and the Mike Mussina signing only exacerbated the problem. The two teams have made just one trade during Cashman’s tenure, the Jaret Wright-Chris Britton blockbuster back in November 2006. Perhaps a deal could be worked out with acting GM Andy MacPhail having exclusive control of the baseball ops, maybe even a multi-player trade involving Ty Wigginton as well.

I don’t expect the Yanks to make a major splash before Saturday’s deadline, but I’m hoping to be surprised. Scott doesn’t have the name recognition of Dunn, but he’s performing at a similar level this year and has a more favorable contract situation. As far as we know, the asking price isn’t as ridiculous either. If the Yanks do decide to make a move for a full-time designated hitter in the next two days, they won’t be able to do much better than this guy right here.

Rosenthal: Yanks unlikely to pursue a catcher

Even with Jorge Posada dealing with a Baker’s cyst and Frankie Cervelli hitting .195/.273/.293 in his last 131 plate appearances, the Yankees are not going to pursue a catcher before Saturday’s trade deadline according to Ken Rosenthal. They have depth at the position in the form up Chad Moeller and Jesus Montero, and frankly there are no attractive catchers on the trade market anyway. I suppose they could look at someone like Chris Snyder while employing Posada as a full-time designated hitter, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Rosenthal also mentions that the Yanks want Adam Dunn but aren’t confident that they’ll be able to land him, and the asking price for bullpen help remains high. Go figure.