Tampa and Staten Island win big on Derby night

Kevin Goldstein had a lukewarm report on Austin Romine from the Futures Game (subs. req’d)…

[Romine’s] prospect stock remains flat. He’s a good hitter for average, but his aggressiveness early in the count and merely gap-to-average power leave his total line a bit empty. He’s also one of those frustrating backstops who has the tools to be a good defender, but is a so-so receiver with a slow release that wastes his strong arm … I can’t remember the last time I heard a scout get really excited about his future.

Don’t miss the injury news from earlier this evening. Also, Kanekoa Texeira is back, re-signed to a minor league deal. Yay, I guess.

Triple-A Scranton is off until Thursday for the All-Star break. The actual All-Star Game will be played on Wednesday, and Adam Warren is the only Yankees farmhand that will be there. Jesus Montero, Jorge Vazquez, and Kevin Whelan were all picked for the game but withdrew due to injury.

Double-A Trenton (7-6 loss to Reading in 11 innings, walk-off style)
Ray Kruml, RF: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – this isn’t deja vu, it’s his second straight game with this exact same line
Corban Joseph, 2B & Cody Johnson, DH: both 0 for 5 – CoJo struck out twice, Johnson all five times (!!!)
Bradley Suttle, 1B: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K – had just two hits in his previous 30 at-bats (.067)
Melky Mesa, CF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 CS – threw a runner out at first
Rob Lyerly, 3B: 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 K, 2 E (both fielding)
Jose Pirela, SS: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – hit a game-tying three-run homer with two outs in the ninth
Damon Sublett, LF: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) – threw a runner out at the plate
R.J. Baker, C: 0 for 4, 3 K, 1 E (missed catch)
Craig Heyer, RHP: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HB, 2-2 GB/FB - I wonder if it’s time to put him back in the bullpen, the whole starting thing doesn’t seem to be cooperating
Josh Romanski, LHP: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-2 GB/FB
Brad Halsey, LHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB
Cory Arbiso, RHP: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 4-4 GB/FB – two of the walks were intentional
Pat Venditte, SwP: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0-1 GB/FB – gave up the walk-off homer to a pretty good prospect

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Heathcott may be out for season, Turley out a month

Via Josh Norris, Slade Heathcott has missed most of the last month or so with a left shoulder issue, and it’s likely that he’ll miss the rest of the season. He had surgery on the shoulder this past offseason, and apparently a second surgery is possible. That’s his throwing arm, by the way. That really sucks. Nik Turley, meanwhile, will miss about a month with a broken hand. Line drive got him. He’s already over his previous career high in innings, so the rest might not be the worst thing in the world. Too bad it’s not by choice.

Need some good news? Donnie Collins says that Tim Norton is about a week or so from returning to the mound, which sounds hard to believe after the report of his labrum being severely torn and his career being in jeopardy. Mark Newman confirmed that he’s a week away, so it’s obvious the original injury report was wrong. Great news, Norton was having an absurdly dominant year.

Open Thread: 2011 Home Run Derby

Is it home run or homerun? I’ve always preferred one word, but the official site and Wikipedia say I’m wrong. Oh well. Anyway, tonight is the night of the most simultaneously boring and entertaining event in baseball, the Home Run Homerun Derby. The first two or three batters are fun, then it just starts to drag. MLB changed things up this year by appointing team captains (Prince Fielder and David Ortiz, the last two winners) and letting them pick the participants, though that didn’t do too much. I know he’s having an awful year, but it’s criminal that Adam Dunn still has not taken his hacks in the Derby yet. Mike Stanton’s another guy that should have been picked as well, just look at what the kid can do. His MLB.com highlight pages are pure homerun porn. Oh well.

The Yankees have one of their own in the Derby, second baseman Robinson Cano. Mark Teixeira was originally asked to participate, but he decided against it when he didn’t get selected for the game. Can’t say I blame him, I’d rather spend the time off with my family than fly out for the one event. Cano’s father Jose (a former big leaguer) will pitch to him, which would be pretty cool. Here are the participants, though I have no what order they’re hitting in…

American League
Jose Bautista
Robinson Cano
Adrian Gonzalez
David Ortiz

National League
Prince Fielder
Matt Holliday
Matt Kemp
Rickie Weeks

StatCorner says Chase Field is basically a neutral homerun park for right-handed batters (102 HR pack factor) and very favorable for lefties (114), but you know what? I’m going against that and am picking Holliday. It’s not about how far you hit the ball but how many you hit out, and we’ve seen so many players tire in the later rounds over the last few years. Holliday’s so absurdly big and strong that I think he’ll hold up the best during the course of the competition. Plus having the experience from last year, when he hit just five homers, will probably help.

Anyway, that’s my pick. The Derby starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN and ESPN3.com. You can talk about that or whatever else your heart desires here in the open thread, so have at it. Anything goes.

Update: Here’s the order: Cano, Holliday, Gonzalez, Weeks, Bautista, Kemp, Ortiz, Fielder.

A-Rod’s knee surgery goes a-okay

Via Marc Carig, Alex Rodriguez‘s surgery to repair a slightly torn meniscus went well this morning. I can’t remember the last time a professional athlete had surgery and it didn’t go well, but it’s always a relief to hear things went according to plan. There’s no change to his timetable, Alex is expected back in 4-6 weeks.

A Brief History: Yankees in the Home Run Derby

They don’t call them the Bronx Bombers for nothing, s0 I was somewhat surprised to see that just three Yankees have participated in the Home Run Derby a total of four times since the event started in 1985. Robinson Cano will make it four players and five appearances later tonight, when he takes his hacks at Chase Field in Arizona with seven others. It could have been Mark Teixeira, but he decided to spend the All-Star break at home with his family after not making the AL team. Oh well. Let’s go back in time and relive the four Derbies the Yankees graced with their presence…

(Photo Credit: www.oocities.org)

Tino Martinez, 1997

I was pretty young and naive in 1997, so I thought Tino’s monster 44 homer campaign was a sign of great things of come. Of course that was his career season, and on only two other occasions did he top even 30 homers (1995 and 2001). Tino’s first half in 1997 was beastly, a .302/.370/.619 batting line with 28 homers (!!!) in 85 games. The Derby was a little different back then, it had ten players (not eight) taking their swings at the brand spanking new Jacobs Field in Cleveland.

Tino hit five homers in the first round, tied with Mark McGwire for the second most behind Larry Walker (nine). Martinez went deep eight times in the second round, again the second most behind Walker’s nine. Although the Colorado outfielder and eventual NL MVP out-homered the Yankees’ first baseman 19-16 over the course of the event, Tino’s timing was better. He hit three homers in the finals to Walker’s one, and that was that. The first Yankee to compete in the Derby had won it. Tino production dropped a bit in the second half, but he still hit a crazy good .289/.372/.525 with 16 homers in 73 games down the stretch.

Jason Giambi, 2002

(Photo Credit: The Lawrence Journal-World)

The Giambino’s first year in pinstripes was insanely good; he hit .318/.430/.602 with 22 homers in 86 games heading into the break. The first round of the Derby in Miller Park wasn’t much of a problem, Giambi hit 11 homers. Only Sammy Sosa (12) had more. Back in those days, the four players that advanced to the second round faced off head-to-head, one seed vs. four, two vs. three. Giambi drew Paul Konerko as the two seed, then out-homered him seven to six in the second round. Sosa (five) beat Richie Sexson (four), so he and Giambi met in the finals even though Konerko had the second most homers in the round.

Sosa was no match in the finals. Giambi out-homered him 7-1 to win the event, and his 24 total homers were the second most all-time behind the 26 Sosa hit in 2000. Two Yankees in the Derby, two wins. Giambi’s production didn’t slip at all in the second half, he hit .309/.442/.593 with 19 homers in his final 69 games.

Jason Giambi, 2003

MLB invited Giambi to the Homerun Derby for the third straight year and why not? He was one of the game’s premier sluggers at the time. He had hit .267/.419/.547 with 26 homers in 91 first half games, so not that far off from his 2002 first half in the OBP and ISO departments. U.S. Cellular Field loves left-handed batters and Giambi took advantage, leading the way with a dozen first round homers. Garrett Anderson hit seven, and no one else topped four. Giambi drew Albert Pujols in the second round, though his eleven homers were not enough. Pujols hit 14 and advanced to the finals, losing to Anderson 9-8. Despite being bounced in the second round, Giambi’s 23 total homers were the second most in the event, three behind Pujols. His production dropped in the second half, down to .226/.401/.498 with 15 homers in 65 second half games.

(Photo Credit: The Connecticut Post)

Nick Swisher, 2010

Swisher wasn’t even supposed to participate in the event in the first place. He was a replacement for Cano, who had to withdraw due to a sore back. Swish didn’t make it out of the first round, hitting just four balls out of Angels Stadium. He was spared the embarrassment of hitting the fewest homers in the event by Chris Young (one) and Vernon Wells (two). David Ortiz eventually beat Hanley Ramirez in the finals. After hitting .298/.377/.524 with 15 homers in 84 games in the first half, Swisher dropped to .275/.336/.494 after the break, but he did hit 14 homers in 67 games.

* * *

Aside from the superhuman Giambi in 2002, everyone’s production declined in the second half, but they were hardly useless. I think it has more to do with those guys having outrageously good first halves and just coming back to Earth down the stretch. Cano is at .296/.342*/.521 with 15 homers through the team’s first 88 games, and it’s worth noting that he’s traditionally been a better hitter in the second half. That was not true last year, however. Either way, I’d love to see Cano win the thing, but I’ll take the field on this one.

* I was surprised to see his OBP that high, but then I realized that it’s inflated by a career-high nine hit-by-pitches. He got plunked eight times last year and eight times 2007. If we remove those HBP’s from his time-on-base and plate appearance totals, his OBP is just .326. I don’t want to think about what it would be if we removed the four intentional walks.