Phil Hughes, the promising but seemingly inconsistent Yanks youngster, made the start in the AFL’s Rising Stars showcase last night. He threw three innings but did not have his best stuff. He allowed four runs — but just one earned — on three hits and two walks. Two of those three hits were home runs. While he did strike out three, he threw just 27 of 50 pitches for strikes.
For Hughes, this effort was another in a recent spate of sub-par efforts. In the long run, AFL stats don’t account for anything; the whole purpose of Hughes’ stint in Arizona is to ensure him the innings he needs after he missed much of the season to an injury. Until we hear some first-hand scouting reports though, all we have to go on are the numbers, and a 54 percent strike rate is not what we’d like to see.
Update by Mike (1:05pm): Ben beat me to it, so I’m just going to tack on the rest of DotF here. Austin Jackson started in center and batted leadoff in said Rising Stars Showcase, going 0 for 1 with a walk, a strikeout, and a stolen base. The National team won the game when Reds’ prospect Drew Stubbs drew a walk-off bases loaded walk, an inning after Mets’ prospect Eddie Kunz blew the save by allowing all three inherited runners to score.
Jeremy Bleich took the mound for Waikiki, and had another strong outing: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, throwing 58 of 86 pitches for strikes (67.4%). Bleich walked his first batter since October 4th, and over his last three starts he’s allowed just 13 baserunners in 19.2 IP, striking out 19 in the process. Impressive since he apparently needs elbow surgery.
I wasn’t expecting him to come back anyway, but at least now it’s official: Larry Bowa isn’t coming back to coach third. Joe Torre’s entire staff will remain in LA, so even the possibility of a Donnie Baseball return goes out the window. Another potential third base coach also came off the market today: Mike “Leggo my Eggo” Gallego will coach third for the A’s. I think the Yanks should just slide Tony Pena over to third and get a guy like Luis Sojo to coach first, but what do I know. · (29) ·
We all want to see CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and everyone other big name free agent land in the Bronx in 2009. But while practical concerns — such as other teams — may interfere with our hopes and dreams, we also have to recognize that money is a concern. Or is it? That’s the question Replacement Level Yankee Weblog asked today, and the answer seems to be no. Money-wise, the Yanks could sign Sabathia and Teixeira and still have plenty of cash left over for Moose or Pettitte. As Andrew YF said earlier today, “The Yankees’ biggest advantage is their massive amount of money.” How they use it this winter will determine the team’s future for years to come. · (31) ·
Mark Teixeira is a premier defensive first baseman who hits for power and does a stellar job getting on base. In the words of Buster Olney, he is the perfect fit for the Yanks. While numerous Yankee bloggers have made the case for Teixeira, yesterday, SG at Replacement Level Yankee Weblog ran the numbers and showed that a seven-year deal for Teixeira would be ideal. His 2015 projections have Teixeira at .268/.365/.483 in 2015 at the end of a tenure in the Bronx that projects to 201 HR with a .280/.378/.508 line. I’d take that in a heartbeat for $22 million a year. · (117) ·
Yankee officials are currently sitting in front of Dennis Kuchinich’s Congressional subcommittee on domesti policy, and Neil deMause is liveblogging the event. For all you good government types, part one is available here on the Village Voice’s website, and the current live log is right here. The issue at stake right now is the land value assessment of the new stadium plot. It appears that the city significantly overvalued it to ensure tax breaks for the ball club. · (11) ·
At this point, it would be a shocker if Mike Mussina did not retire. For years, Mussina has been determined to end his career on his terms, rather than being told he’s not wanted any longer. To walk away after his first career 20-win season, when he could actually get offers from all over the place…the only way it could’ve ended better for Mussina would’ve been a Yankees World Series victory to go along with his personal success.
You can expect a Yankee Stadium farewell news conference shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. I’ll leave myself one percent room for error. But no one who knows Mussina well thinks he’ll pitch again.
If this is true — and no one really has any way of knowing until Mike Mussina gets on stage and announces it himself — it will leave a glaring 20-win hole in the Yankee rotation. Mussina this year showed that he could adapt to age. He converted himself from a fastball pitcher into a Jamie Moyer type and enjoyed one of his best seasons ever.
Now, if Moose were to hang it up, the Yanks would have just Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte as definite members of the rotation in 2009. Without Moose to anchor the back end, the team will have to fill from a limited pool of free agents or internally from some combination of Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kennedy or any other body that happens to be around.
Furthermore, I have more faith in Mussina going forward than I do in Pettitte, but the point may be moot. Over the last few years, Mussina has watched as well-respected hurlers — Roger Clemens, David Wells, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling — have gone out amidst relatively poor seasons and injuries. He’d rather leave on top, and if that’s his choice, I’ll applaud him for it. For the sake of the Yanks, though, I hope he’s not quite ready to hang it up yet.
Let’s do a chat tomorrow, how’s 3pm sound? Help ya get through that last few hours on a Friday. Here’s our past chats.
AzFL Peoria (13-1 loss to Phoenix)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – took a guy who throws kinda sorta hard deep
Juan Miranda: 0 for 3, 1 BB - 0 for his last 11
Humberto Sanchez: 0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP – my eyes, the goggles do nothing!!! … 16 of 26 pitches were strikes (61.5%)
Kevin Whelan: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-1 GB/FB - only 12 of 23 pitches were strikes (52.2%)
HWB Waikiki had a scheduled off day.
AzFL Peoria (16-5 win over Phoenix)
Juan Miranda: 0 for 5, 1 BB, 2 K - 16 runs & 21 hits and he takes an 0-fer? lame…
HWB Waikiki beat West Oahu 9-8, but no Yankees’ prospects played in the game. This was Jeremy Bleich‘s rotation turn, but he didn’t pitch. Not sure what that’s about. Oh, and Damon Sublett hasn’t played in over week. Hawaii hasn’t been too kind to the Yanks over the years, you may remember Mark Melancon & Chris Garcia blew out their elbows here in 2006.
Loyal reader Angel tells me that Brett Gardner will play for Toros de Este of the Dominican Winter League. He hasn’t played in a game yet.
The Braves offered more, but after spending time in the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, that’s all the money it took to get Dioner Favian Navarro into the pinstriped pipeline way back in 2000. The switch hitting catcher wowed onlookers first in the Gulf Coast League, then South Atlantic League, then the Florida State League, and before you knew it, he was making his Major League Debut for the Bombers on September 7th, 2004 against (who else?) the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Named the Yanks’ top prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2004 season, Navarro was coming off a season in which he hit a ridiculous .321-.375-.469 while catching 110 games as a 19-yr old between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Dubbed “Pudgito” because his stocky build resembles Ivan Rodriguez, the Venezuelan born backstop was poised to assume backup catcher duties behind incumbent Jorge Posada in 2005 after hitting .429 during his September call-up. Navarro was Posada’s successor, and the changing of the guard was ready to begin.
Then George Steinbrenner stepped in.
Steinbrenner’s affection for Randy Johnson had been well-known, and on January 11th, 2005, a deal was completed to bring The Big Unit to the Bronx. Heading to the desert was Navarro (amongst others), his Yankees’ career over after 356 minor league games and seven big league plate appearances. Navarro was traded again less than 24 hours later, this time to the Dodgers as part of a package for Shawn Green. Eighteen months later he was traded again, this time to baseball purgatory for Toby Hall & Mark Hendrickson.
Navarro struggled in his first full season as a Major League catcher last year, hitting just .227-.286-.356 in 119 games. The highlight of his season came at Yankee Stadium (of course) on July 20th, when he hit a monster grand slam through the rain drops into the right field upper deck off Edwar Ramirez. Navarro was hitting a Major League low .179 coming into the game, but the Rays kept running him out because they believed he was their catcher of the future and needed the playing time to develop.
Blossoming as a 24-yr old this year, Navarro earned his first All-Star berth and was second amongst American League catchers with a .295 batting average & .349 on-base percentage. He delivered a crucial walk-off single against the Red Sox on Sept. 16th, breaking a tie atop the AL East. The Rays never looked back, taking the division by two games over the BoSox. One month later, Pudgito is starting in the World Series.
Following prospects is a fun hobby. There’s nothing like imagining what a player can become, hoping they can figure out how to hit a breaking a ball or command their fastball, and envisioning them carrying your team to the World Championship. No one knows what would have become of Navarro had the Yanks not traded him. Maybe his development would have stalled behind Posada, maybe he would have gotten a piece of advice that turned him a player rivaling Matt Wieters. But watching Navarro for the Rays this postseason has been a personal victory; a return on all the time and faith I put into following his progess, hoping he’d one day lead the Yanks to the promised land. For now though, I’ll settle for watching Navarro do his thing for the Rays.
There’s simply nothing better than watching a prospect make it.
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Shane Victorino, CF
7. Greg Dobbs, DH
8. Pedro Feliz, 3B
9. Carlos Ruiz, C
– Brett Myers, P (10-13, 4.55)
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Cliff Floyd, DH
7. Pudgito, C
8. Rocco Baldelli, RF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS
– Jamie Shields, P (14-8, 3.56)
Baseball America has started digging through the aftermath of the 2008 Draft, and handed out some hardware. Unfortunately this article is subsciber only, but I’ll tell you this much: Pat Venditte has one of the best pro debuts of any college player, Jeremy Bleich had one of the draft’s best secondary pitches, and Garrison Lassiter was one of the best late round picks. Sadly both Gerrit Cole & Scott Bittle were two of the best players who got away, but that should come as no surprise. All-in-all, the Yanks spent just over $5M on the draft this year, down nearly $3M from last year. Had Cole and/or Bittle signed, they would have spent north of $8M this year. · (89) ·