Brackman flirts with no-hitter, Tampa plays best game ever

Dante Bichette Jr. is the third hottest prospect in the minors according to this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. In other news, remember Chris Garcia? He signed with the Nationals and was assigned to their High-A squad. I checked to make sure it was actually him and not just another dude with the same name, and it’s him. Hopefully he stays healthy, kid’s got a great arm.

Triple-A Scranton (8-5 loss to Buffalo)
Kevin Russo, LF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 K
Austin Krum, CF & Luis Nunez, 2B: both 0 for 4
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Mike Lamb, DH: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K – second straight game with a homer, fourth in five games
Brandon Laird, 3B & Jordan Parraz, RF: both 2 for 3, 1 2 B, 1 RBI, 1 HBP – Laird scored a run
Doug Bernier, SS: 0 for 3, 1 BB
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 9 BB, 2 K, 2 WP, 2-3 GB/FB – just 35 of 82 pitches were strikes (42.7%) … hey, the title wasn’t a lie
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K – 0-1 GB/FB – 12 of 19 pitches were strikes (63.2%) … allowed all three of the runners he inherited from Brackman to score
J.C. Romero, LHP: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 0-2 GB/FB – just 11 of 28 pitches were strikes (39.3%) … eek
Josh Schmidt, RHP: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4-4 GB/FB – 26 of 41 pitches were strikes (63.4%)

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Game 103: Welcome the O’s

This comfy little ten-game homestand continues with four games in three days against the Orioles. It’s always fun playing Baltimore, mostly because the Yankees end up winning most of the time. Here’s the starting nine…

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C

A.J. Burnett, SP

The game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Update: The tarp is being put on the field right now (6:33pm ET), so expect a delay. In the meantime, you can watch former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang make his triumphant return to the Major Leagues. He’s starting against the Mets tonight (7pm ET in Washington), so you can see the game on SNY if you’re in the New York area. Go Wanger.

Heee’s back! Soriano activated off DL

As expected, the Yankees have activated Rafael Soriano off the disabled list today. Steve Garrison was sent back to Double-A Trenton to clear a 25-man roster spot, but I have no idea what the corresponding 40-man move was. They did have an open spot earlier in the week, but Eric Chavez took that. Anyway, Joe Girardi said they plan to ease Soriano back into things, but who knows what that means.

Update: The official site says that Sergio Mitre has been placed on the 60-day DL, so he’s the 40-man move. He was sent for an MRI on his injured shoulder earlier today.

Trade Rumors: Ubaldo, Betances, Brown, Kuroda

The latest from the trade rumor circuit…

  • Talks between the Yankees and Rockies about Ubaldo have not gone well, mostly because Colorado is marketing him as an ace while the Yankees see him as more of a number two. There’s also some suspicion that’s something’s wrong since he’s on the market in the first place. (Joel Sherman)
  • The Yankees are willing to move Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances in the same package for a sure thing, but they don’t feel Ubaldo fits the bill. (Sherman)
  • There’s some speculation that the Yankees could get involved in the Hunter Pence-to-Philadelphia deal by being a third team. They would trade Betances for Domonic Brown, the left-handed impact bat they lack. I’d make that deal too, in a heartbeat. Philadelphia had a scout in Trenton last night to watch Betances. Remember, that scenario is just speculation. (Sherman, Sherman)
  • One note on Hiroki Kuroda: because of his no-trade clause, there’s a league mandated 24-hour period before a deal can be finalized. That means the deadline to trade him is tomorrow, not Sunday. There still hasn’t been an indication that he’s on the move.
  • One rival executive said the Yankees have been “suspiciously quiet” so far, or as I like to say, ninja-like. (Marc Carig)

Update: Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees have made multiple calls to the Dodgers about Kuroda today, but none to the Rockies about Jimenez.

The RAB Radio Show: July 29th, 2011

We’re talking plenty of deadline stuff, so let’s get to the bullets.

  • Of course we’re talking about Ubaldo Jimenez, both in terms of benefits and costs. How bad do the Yankees want him? If they really want him, you can expect a deal before 4 p.m. on Sunday. If they’re waiting for him to come down to a lower price tier, it’ll be a last-minute thing.
  • There are other starters, too, and we spend the bulk of the show talking about them. Wandy Rodriguez could be a last-minute addition at a cheap price. Hiroki Kuroda might be available, and it looks like the Yanks are as good a bet as any for his services. And don’t forget John Danks.
  • There are other positions where the Yanks could add a player. Mike’s big on a lefty reliever. There’s DH, too, but that solution might come internally.

Podcast run time 53:03

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  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Four games in 48 hours must suck for the players, but it’s pretty awesome as a fan. The Yankees and Orioles will be making up an April rain out as part of a doubleheader this Saturday, New York’s second doubleheader of the season. The first six games these two teams played all ended up in the win column for the Yankees, who outscored Baltimore 51-18 in the process.

What Have The Orioles Done Lately?

Shockingly, Buck Showalter’s magic doesn’t work when he doesn’t have much talent on roster. The Orioles have won just five of 13 games since the All-Star break and have been outscored 75 -55. They’ve scored more than three runs just twice in their last seven games. Overall, Baltimore is buried in the AL East cellar with a 41-60 record the league’s worst run differential (-111).

Orioles On Offense

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

The Orioles can hit a little, with a team .320 wOBA that is sixth best in the AL. They’re basically league average, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Their best hitter all season has been J.J. Hardy, who sports a .365 wOBA. Adam Jones is right behind him at .357 wOBA, and Mark Reynolds is pretty close to him at .350 wOBA. Those three have combined for 57 of the team’s 119 homeruns (47.9%). They’re Baltimore’s three best hitters, but they’re so spread out in the lineup that it takes away from the overall offense. Hardy leads off, Jones bats third, and Reynolds typically bats seventh. Hard to sustain rallies when your three best hitters are spread out like they; they should really be batting 2-3-4.

Nick Markakis is still a slightly above-average hitter (.324 wOBA), but not the star he looked like he was on his way to becoming a few years ago. Vladimir Guerrero (.309 wOBA) and Derrek Lee (.306) are basically reanimated corpses these days, impacting the game maybe once a week. They’re batting 4-5 solely because of reputation. Luke Scott (.309 wOBA) and Brian Roberts (.275) are out with injuries (Scott for the year) and have been replaced by Nolan Reimold (.344 wOBA in 36 games) and a combination of Robert Andino (.300 wOBA) and Blake Davis (.300). Matt Wieters is having a very nice year for a backstop (.318), but his platoon split is massive (.398 wOBA vs. LHP, .287 vs. RHP). Bench pieces Craig Tatum, Josh Bell, and Felix Pie are negligible, though Bell can run into one on occasion. Jones and Markakis (eight each) are the only players on the roster that can be considered stole base threats.

Orioles On The Mound

Friday, RHP Jeremy Guthrie (vs. A.J. Burnett): I’m setting the over/under on hit batsmen in this game at 2.5, whatcha got? Guthrie’s been plunking Yankees basically since the day he got to Baltimore, and it’s not confirmation bias; ten of his 44 batters he’s hit in his career have worn pinstripes. No other team has been plunked more than six times. Guthrie is having a typical Jeremy Guthrie season, with 5.57 K/9 and 2.67 BB/9 and a 4.36 FIP in 137.1 IP. His ground ball rate (36.7%) is way down as is his strand rate (69.8%), which is why his ERA is at 4.33 and not in the 3.00’s. Guthrie’s repertoire remains unchanged, low-90’s fastballs (four and two-seamers), low-80’s slider, low-80’s changeup, and a low-70’s curve. The Yankees have seen him a zillion times before, so there’s no surprises here.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Saturday Game One, LHP Zach Britton (vs. Bartolo Colon/Ivan Nova): I’m not quote sure who is starting what game for the Yankees on Saturday, but Colon and Nova will be the two guys pitching. Britton is coming back up from the minors for the spot start, three weeks after an eight run, two outs recorded disaster against the Red Sox. He shut the Yankees down the only other time he faced them, holding them to one unearned run over seven innings. That was the 15-inning, Hector Noesi MLB debut game. Britton is a true-sinkerballer, generating a plethora of ground balls (55.1%) with his low-90’s two-seamer. He’ll also break out a mid-80’s changeup and a low-80’s slider, but he throws the sinker almost 75% of the time. Hopefully that Yankees take what they learned from that game in May and knock Britton out well before the seventh this time.

Saturday Game Two, TBA (vs. Colon/Nova): The Orioles haven’t announced their starter yet for this game, but all signs point to it being either Chris Tillman or Alfredo Simon, with the former the most likely bet. Tillman is the poster boy for Baltimore’s pitching trouble, all their prospects go backwards once they get to the show, losing velocity and command. It’s worse than what happened to Phil Hughes, because at least he had a physical issue to explain things. All of Baltimore’s guys are healthy. Tillman used to be a mid-90’s fastball, high-70’s curve guy, but now he mostly lives in the 87-89 range with a mid-70’s bender. He’s been in Triple-A since the end of May, and the Yankees have hit him very, very hard in the past (including earlier this year).

Simon has nice peripherals (3.39 FIP in 44.2 IP) and lively stuff (mid-90’s heat, high-80’s splitter, mid-80’s slider), but he just threw five innings and 103 pitches on Wednesday. He’d be on three days rest tomorrow, which is why Tillman will likely get the call. I should also probably mention that I don’t know what order Britton and Tillman/Simon are pitching, it could be Britton in the night cap.

Sunday, RHP Jake Arrieta (vs. Freddy Garcia): It has not been a good season for young Mr. Arrieta, who has already faced the Yankees twice and lost both games. His strikeout rate (7.01 K/9) is good but not great and his walk rate (4.17) is pushing the limits of acceptable, but giving up 1.65 homeruns for every nine innings pitched is as bad as it gets. Only Bronson Arroyo (2.12), Colby Lewis (1.73), and Brett Myers (1.66) have been more homer prone this year (min. 80 IP). The surprising thing is that Arrieta’s 45.2% ground ball rate is pretty good, he’s just got a knack for falling behind in the count and making mistakes. He’s a five-pitch guy, throwing low-90’s four and two-seamers to set up his mid-80’s slider, mid-80’s changeup, and high-70’s curve. The two breaking balls are his go-to secondary offerings.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Bullpen: The Orioles have two dynamite setup guys in their bullpen, but there’s a chance one of them will be traded before Sunday’s deadline. That’s Koji Uehara, who’s rumored to be on the block and of interest to several contenders. He’s got gaudy peripherals (11.74 K/9 and 1.57 BB/9) and an ERA (1.76) to match. The other guy is Jim Johnson, who’s a low-strikeout (5.85 K/9) ground ball specialist (62%). Mike Gonzalez is fine when used as a lefty specialist (same-side hitters have a .229/.280/.357 line against him this year), but the rest of the bullpen is pretty awful.

Closer Kevin Gregg has struck out almost exactly eight and walked exactly six batters for every nine innings pitched this year (4.86 FIP). Jason Berken is super duper homerun prone (1.82 HR/9), as is Chris Jakubauskas (1.77). Mark Hendrickson has walked five and struck out five in nine innings since being recalled. Lefty Troy Patton has nice numbers (12.60 K/9 and 3.60 BB/9) … but he’s thrown just five innings since being recalled. Uehara and Johnson are very good, but the rest of this cast is as sketchy as it gets.

Recommended Orioles Reading: Camden Crazies. If you want to go to any of the games this weekend, RAB Tickets can get you into the Stadium dirt cheap. Here’s some pricing info…