A theme we touched on frequently this season was the poor hitting of Robinson Cano. He started off slow in 2007, but picked it up to finish strong. This year, he had a similarly slow start, but didn’t really pick it up the way he did in ’07. He had a good May, followed by a mediocre June, a very good July, solid August, and a bad start to September, followed by a strong finish.

April .151 .211 .236
May .295 .333 .432
June .287 .302 .416
July .327 .352 .495
August .290 .336 .490
September .287 .303 .404

To further break down September, Cano hit .167/.167/.229 from September 1 through his benching on September 14-15. From the 16th on he went on a tear, hitting .413/.431/.587. The benching might have served as a wake up call, it might not have. We can’t get in Cano’s head, so we don’t know for sure, but it sounds like it was part of it. The other part, of course, can be illustrated.

The one on the left is Cano’s stance on April 29 (pardon the half-Kenny Rogers). The one on the right is at the end of September. That’s quite a difference in stances. I’m figuring that had something to do with it, too. As Kevin Long said a few times this season, there were just too many moving parts in Cano’s swing. Closing Cano’s stance simplifies his swing, allowing him to make a more balanced strike at the ball.

So why wasn’t this changed earlier in the season? It seems that’s not Long’s style. From Cano himself, in May of this year:

“He gives you a lot of confidence, and that’s the best thing,” Cano said. “He doesn’t change your stance or anything. He’ll tell you you’re a good hitter, but he doesn’t lie to you, either. If he thinks it’s a bad pitch, it’s a bad pitch.”

This helps explain Long’s reluctance to tinker with Cano. He said as much himself:

“You’re reluctant to make those changes when he’s had success,” Long said. “He’s pretty much got to (level) off before you overhaul somebody.”

Long plans to join Cano in the Dominican Republic this winter to continue the refinement of this new approach.

Hopefully, he can get into the groove early in the season and silence critics before they can start up. It’s clear that Cano is a top talent. He plays a premium position, and most of the time plays it well. If he can get his bat going to even 2007 levels, he’ll be a staple in the lineup for years to come. If he can produce at 2006 levels, he’ll be a perennial All-Star, and also win the batting crown that so many pundits have predicted.

In 2008, though, he was a disappointment. There were good times, but those were offset by horrible times. Things came to a head in September, and it looks like he turned things around. Then again, it looked like he turned things around in July, so who knows what this means for the future. At this point, though, I’m not sure the Yanks should shop Cano. His contract, his position, and his potential make him a valuable chip, but they also make him valuable to the team.

Categories : Analysis
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  • CC in the postseason
    By

    Over his last four postseason appearances, CC Sabathia has not impressed. He’s 1-3 over that span, and in 19 innings, the lefty has surrendered 20 runs on 27 hits and 17 walks. Tonight, against the Phillies, CC had the velocity, but he had no command. Clearly, he seemed fatigued after throwing 500 pitches over two weeks and making three starts in a row on three days’ rest.

    While the media will spin this as a story about CC’s inability to pitch in a big game, he’s thrown in three straight big games before today. Rather, if the Yanks are to pursue CC, they should pay careful attention to his regular season innings and realize that, if they want an effective postseason pitcher, they’ll have to manage his innings better than the Indians did last year and the Brewers did this year.
    · (56) ·

Pitcher A: 14-6, 3.91 ERA, 6.20 Kper9, 1.44 GB/FB, 4.23 FIP
Pitcher B: 16-10, 3.14 ERA, 9.02 Kper9, 1.70 GB/FB, 3.35 FIP

Which would you rather have; probably Pitcher B, right? Well what if I told you A made $16,000,000 this year while B made $415,000? Then it’s a no-brainer.

Pitcher A takes on Pitcher B in Wrigley tonight, Zambrano vs Billingsley. Torre’s boys look to take a commanding 2-0 lead. Enjoy the game.

Los Angeles
1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Russ Martin, C
3. Manny Ramirez, LF
4. Andre Ethier, RF
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Matt Kemp, CF
7. Blake DeWitt, 2B
8. Casey Blake, 3B
9. Chad Billingsley, P

Chicago
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
2. Ryan Theriot, SS
3. Derrek Lee, 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Mark DeRosa, 2B
6. Jim Edmonds, CF
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Categories : Game Threads
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This is a game that should pique the interest of many Yankees’ fans, and it’s all because of that big cuddly guy to the right. Making his fifth start in the last 17 freaking days, CC’s looking to give the Brewers’ their first playoff win since October 17th, 1982, exactly 13 days before this blogger’s first birthday.

The Phils will throw Brett Myers, who’s got a 6.93 ERA in his last 4 starts. A Brewers’ win ties the series up at one apiece, a loss and you might see CC taking the hill again in Game 3 on Saturday (I’m only half-joking).

The game starts right about now, and if you want some Yankees’ related content, check out iYankees case for Mark Teixeira.

Lineups:

Bark twice if you’re in Milwaukee
1. Mike Cameron, CF
2. Ray Durham, 2B
3. Ryan “The Hebrew Hammer” Braun, LF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. JJ Hardy, SS
6. Corey Hart, RF
7. Craig Counsell, 3B
8. Jason Kendall, C
9. C(ha)C(hing) Sabathia, P

Philadelphia
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat the Bat Burrell, LF
6. Jayson Werth, RF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Brett Myers, P

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (137)
  • Making the case for Mark Teixeira
    By

    As the Yanks look ahead to the post-World Series free agency frenzy, one name sure to be on the team’s radar is Mark Teixeira. The agile, power-hitting first baseman is due for a big raise, and the Yanks just happen to have a glaring need for a first baseman and lots of money. Teixeira has enjoyed two straight seasons of a .400+ OBP, and he would be a perfect fit for the Bronx, says iYankees. If the years are right, the dollar amount doesn’t really matter. · (99) ·

After fending off the Indians, Tigers, and Twins in three consecutive days to make the playoffs, the White Sox face off against the Rays, who are coming off a 97-win season, or the most wins in franchise history by 27. You have to admire Chicago’s entrance. To beat three different teams in three straight days is quite an accomplishment. Then again, none of that would have been necessary had they not been swept by the Twins a week ago.

On the pitching end, former Yanks Javy Vazquez goes for the Sox. He didn’t have a great year, posting a 4.67 ERA in 208.1 innings. He did strike out 200, though, while walking 71. His WHIP was 1.32, which is his highest mark since 2000. James Shields gets the call for the Rays. He tossed 215 innings this year to the tune of a 3.56 ERA. He’s not a strikeout artist, but his 4:1 K/BB ratio (on the nose) makes him a formidable starter.

The game starts at 2:30, so right about nowish. If you’re looking for a more Yankee-centered discussion, check out the last post on the Matt Holliday rumors.

Lineups:

Chicago
1. Orlando Cabrera, SS
2. Dewayne Wise, LF
3. Jermaine Dye, RF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Paul Konerko, 1B
6. Ken Griffey Jr., CF
7. Alexei Ramirez, 2B
8. A.J. Pierzynski, C
9. Juan Uribe, SS — yeah, I dyed me goatee, too — when I was 17

Tampa Bay
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. Bossman Junior Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Cliff Floyd, DH
7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Gabe Gross, RF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (98)

We’re starting to hear the whispers now, but as we approach the end of the season and gear up for the Winter Meetings, Matt Holliday is a name we’ll hear often. Perhaps there won’t be a Santana-esque situation surrounding the left fielder, but it will certainly garner considerable attention. The Rockies might want to sell Holliday, who will make $13.5 million in 2009 before reaching free agency, while they can still get something for him, rather than just take the two draft picks.

Last year, we saw the Twins pretty desperate to unload Santana before the start of Spring Training. While he denied everything, rumors swirled that the lefty ace would deny any possible mid-season trade. Holliday has no such leverage. If the Rockies don’t get a huge offer in the off-season, they could hold onto Holliday in hopes of dealing him in July. We saw some decent bounties for mid-season trades this year, and the Rockies surely know that. Plus, hanging onto Holliday gives them their best chance of competing in 2009.

Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post comments on the situation today. He leads with the Boston-Anaheim series, noting that both might be contenders for Holliday. Why the Sox would be mentioned, I don’t know, since they have their corner outfielders in place for 2009: Jason Bay and J.D. Drew. Renck notes that if Bay flops in the playoffs they could look to trade him for Holliday, but that’s something I just don’t envision. Plus, with his bomb of a homer last night, it might be a moot point anyway. Yet even if he flops, I’m 99.9 percent sure that Theo wouldn’t go trading Bay, due $7.5 million next year before reaching free agency, and someone like Clay Buchholz for Holliday. Doesn’t make much sense at all.

Renck brings the Yankees into the fold, mentioning speculation of a Hughes/Cano for Holliday swap. We’ve heard this before, and again I’ll note that it doesn’t make much sense. If Cano returns to even his 2006 levels he could be more valuable than Holliday. This is considering his position, which is at more of a premium than Holliday’s, his age, and his contract. To add Hughes to that deal, who will be under team control for quite some time to come, doesn’t make sense at all. Why trade two cost-controlled players for a guy with one year to go until free agency?

What troubles me about Holliday is that many are basing their desire for him on his stellar 2007 campaign, when he put up a line of .340/.405/.607. Anyone would want that kind of production, of course. Yet his home/road splits that year were quite pronounced: 1.157 OPS at home vs. .860 on the road. He improved his road OPS in 2008, .896, but as expected fell off at home, .963. So it’s not that he can’t hit on the road. Rather, it’s that his home numbers have been the cause of much of the hype surrounding him.

While I wouldn’t be opposed to adding Holliday, it doesn’t seem the price will be right this winter. By adding him, you’re subtracting your starting second baseman and a potential part of your rotation. You’re also adding a ton of payroll, both by presumably signing Holliday to an extension (which is no guarantee with Boras at the helm) and by going after Orlando Hudson to replace Cano. As down as some are on Cano and Hughes, I just can’t see anyone really justifying such a swap.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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HWB Waikiki (9-6 loss to West Oahu)
Damon Sublett: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 1 K – first game action since getting hurt on May 29th … I’m still not quite sure what exactly the injury was, I’ve heard everything from torn knee ligaments to a broken ankle to a broken wrist, so who really knows … the general consensus seems to be that he suffered the injury while sliding into a bag, so all of the injuries would fit that scenario

No Yankees’ farmhands played in Tuesday night’s game, which Waikiki loss 12-3. Considering they have the most talented team in the league (on paper), it’s got to be disappointing that the Beach Boys are 0-4 and have been outscored 36-15. Andrew Brackman will take the bump for his second start either tonight or tomorrow, depends on what they do with the off day earlier this week.

Oh, and how cool is this? MLB.com now has a page for each ML club that gives stats for all their minor leaguers playing winter ball. It’s about time they put something like this together, no more digging around to find guys hidden away in obscure Caribbean leagues. Just awesome.

The Arizona Fall League starts next Monday.

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (9)
  • Stadium memorabilia will be expensive
    By

    The Yankees and the City of New York — the actual owners of Yankee Stadium — have yet to announce their plans to sell off everything of any value in the House that Ruth Built. However, as Shazia Kahn at NY1 reported today, the Yankee sell off is bound to be very expensive. Personally, I’d like to buy a seat or two, but if the going rate for a pair of Shea seats is $869, I can only imagine what the Yanks will charge. · (13) ·

As part of our continuing effort to run a post mortem on the Yankees’ season, we’re looking at what went wrong. Earlier this week, we looked at Andy Pettitte’s poor second half and the lack of production out of the catcher’s spot. Today we turn to a subject near and dear to our hearts.

Last winter as the Yanks did or did not make an offer for Johan Santana — the official record on that remains a little hazy — we staked a lot on the concept of the Big Three. We were vehemently opposed to included both Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes in the same deal, and we even sold t-shirts.

Needless to say, that didn’t quite work out.

On the season, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy made 18 appearances for the Yankees, and most people would prefer to forget 16 of those outings. Overall, the pair went 0-8 with a combined 7.45 ERA in just 73.2 innings. They allowed 93 hits and walked 41 while striking out just 50. After a promising end to 2007, these two did not deliver as anyone expected.

Had Hughes and Kennedy turned in at least average performance — 25-30 starts with ERAs under 4.75 — the Yanks would never have needed Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson. They probably would have won a few more games, and the team wouldn’t have ended up six games out of a playoff spot.

Of course, it’s not really fair to lump these two pitchers in together. Right now, one still has standing within the organization while the other is in limbo and could very well be moved this off-season. Phil Hughes lost his season to a rib injury. He cracked his rib due to a repetitive motion stress and was on the shelf from May through August. When he finally arrived back in the Bronx, he made two very promising starts, and at 22, he remains a big player in the Yanks’ plans going forward.

Ian Kennedy is a different story. Showing a mix of brash cockiness, confidence and arrogance, Kennedy just couldn’t get outs at the Major League level. He was sent down to AAA twice this year and recalled twice. Each time he came back to the Bronx, he was worse than before. The Yankees don’t seem to mention him too often in their plans for 2009, and he’ll really have to earn a trip back to the Bronx.

But while Kennedy’s stock in the eyes of the fans has fallen, he still has value to the team. The Yanks could include him a trade. He would still fetch a pretty penny, and the Yanks would probably part with him if the price were right. The team could also recognize that young pitchers can take a few years to mature at the Major League level. Kennedy has ran his way through AAA in a way that suggests he’s not being challenged. In the Majors, this year, he looked overmatched, but that’s hardly indicative of future successes or failures.

In the end, the Yankees weren’t bargaining on a Hughes’ injury and Ian Kennedy’s inability to get outs. They could have sustained either one if the other had stayed healthy and effective, but they couldn’t overcome both. It ended up costing them greatly, but we — and the team — will stand behind them. This year may have been a lost year for them, but the slate will be wiped clean in 2009. Next year, you can be though that the Yanks will have a better back-up plan.

Categories : Analysis
Comments (191)