Montero homers and Brackman gives the bullpen a try in SWB win

In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees signed a pair of arms to minor league deals. In other signing news, outfielder Cody Grice (this year’s 12th round pick) has signed for $52,500 and will report to Short Season Staten Island when the season starts later this week. I’m sure some other draftees have signed as well, just haven’t seen any confirmation of any of them yet.

David Phelps was supposed to start for Triple-A Scranton tonight, but the Yankees held him back in case they need him to start on Thursday. Brian Cashman described it as “preserving all options.”

Triple-A Scranton (8-3 win over Syracuse)
Austin Krum, LF: 0 for 4, 2 R, 2 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP – he’s got a ~.255 OBP with SWB, which is certainly not leadoff man material
Ramiro Pena, SS: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB – the homer was an opposite field bomb off a rehabbing big leaguer … he also got robbed of a third hit on a nice defensive place
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 2 or 5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 5
Jordan Parraz, RF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 SB
Kevin Russo, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – got picked off first
Greg Golson, CF: 2 for 3 R, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – threw a runner out at the plate … 11 for his last 28 (.393) with four doubles and a homer
Gus Molina, DH: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 RBI
George Kontos, RHP: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3-3 GB/FB – 33 of 48 pitches were strikes (68.8%) … fine spot start
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 0-2 GB/FB – just 21 of 45 pitches were strikes (46.7%) … it’s unlikely this is just a “it’s a bullpen game and it’s his throw day so use him” thing, he was lined up to start today, but they essentially used an off day to skip him and go to Phelps … so apparently this is the start of a bullpen experiment for Mr. Brackman, hopefully the following appearances go better than this, because there are certainly bullpen spots to be had with the big league team
Cory Wade, RHP: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 13 of 17 pitches were strikes (76.5%) … he stranded all three runners he inherited from Brackman by getting a GIDP
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 19 of 33 pitches were strikes (57.6%) … he had 12 strikeouts all years coming into the game

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2011 Draft: John Sickels’ Yankees Review

John Sickels at Minor League Ball is reviewing each team’s draft haul, and today he got to the Yankees. He is a rare fan of the Dante Bichette Jr. pick and also likes 13th rounder Justin James as a sleeper. “The rest of the class was focused on raw high school kids with power potential and signability issues, plus some college pitchers who look like bullpen contributors,” said Sickels in his overall recap. Make sure you heck it out, he provides mini-scouting reports on each of the team’s top ten selections.

Yankees sign Greg Smith and Cory Wade

The Yankees have signed left-hander Greg Smith and right-hander Cory Wade to minor league deals and assigned them to Triple-A Scranton. Dan Brewer and Buddy Carlyle were placed on the disabled list to make room on the roster. Smith was part of the Dan Haren (to Arizona) and Matt Holliday (to Oakland) trades, but he’s just a fill-in starter for SWB while most of their rotation is in the big league bullpen. I liked him as a prospect once upon a time (I was hoping the Yankees would get him in the second Randy Johnson trade), but that was a while ago.

Wade is actually interesting and could be useful to the big league team. He had a very nice year for the Dodgers in 2008 (3.78 FIP in 71.1 IP), but Joe Torre’s workload was just too much and he had shoulder surgery in 2009. Wade resumed pitching late last year and caught on with the Rays after being non-tendered, striking out 8.34 while walking just 1.47 per nine in 36.2 relief innings with their Triple-A affiliate before being released over the weekend (he told them he was going to use his opt-out clause, so they let him go early). He is a little homer prone, but Wade is a three pitch reliever (fastball, curve, change) and is only 28. He’s certainly more useful than the Carlyles and Amaury Sanits of the world.

Game 64: Goodbye, Cleveland!

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Marianne O'Leary via Creative Commons license)

This series has gone so well for the Yankees, I don’t want it to end. No one does. The Yankees have outplayed the Indians in every way imaginable, and they’ll look to complete the rare four game sweep tonight. A.J. Burnett‘s last start was brutally ineffective, so hopefully he pitches a strong game tonight and avoids the June slump that sent last season into a downward spiral. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
Frankie Cervelli, C – Russell Martin was in the lineup, but was late scratch because of a stiff back

A.J. Burnett, SP

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Sorry for you out of towners. Enjoy.

Two LOOGYs In A Pod: Both Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano have starting playing catch, maybe even with each other. No word on their timetable, but I can’t imagine it’ll be anytime soon … Rafael Soriano still hasn’t been cleared to throw, but it could happen this week … Eric Chavez is hitting in the cage but still not running.

New design added to the RAB Shop

Courtesy of Tyler Wilkinson, we’ve uploaded a new design to the RAB Shop designed for all the ladies out there that dig more than just the long ball. Yes, I stereotypically chose pink for the image above, but you can customize the color and style within the shop itself. You don’t even have to get a shirt, there’s hoodies, onesies, coffee mugs, and tons of other stuff.¬† We have ten different designs available now (well, nine really, since we have two color schemes of one), so check it out in case you haven’t lately.

Boone Logan’s Ineffective Slider

It has not been a good year for Boone Logan, who has “held” the 46 left-handed batters he’s faced to a .350 wOBA this year. He’s only struck out seven of those guys as well, which is an an unfathomably bad rate (15.2%). The Yankees were apparently concerned enough about Logan’s ability to repeat his success from the second half of last year that they signed Pedro Feliciano to a (not cheap) free agent deal. Feliciano’s injury has again thrust Boone into top LOOGY status, a job he really doesn’t deserve at the moment.

The root cause of Logan’s struggles appears to be his slider, a pitch that went from being 2.50 runs above average (per 100 thrown) in 2010 to 1.71 runs below average this year, a swing of more than four runs. He’s throwing the pitch almost exactly as often this year as last, but batters have gone from swinging and missing at it 25.6% of the time to 12.7% of the time, so the slider’s whiff rate has been cut in half. Part of the problem is just location, which you can see from the heat maps above (what’s a heat map?). Logan did a good job of burying the pitch down and away to lefties last year, but this season it’s ending up in the middle of the plate entirely too often.

The characteristics of the pitch are different that last year as well. Boone has actually picked up about an inch and a half of horizontal movement while losing a mile an hour of velocity. A slower pitch with more break is loopier; the 2010 version of the pitch came in harder and had shorter, sharper break. Leave a loopy slider out over the plate … well that’s just a meatball, even to a same-side batter. Logan’s release point is no different (here’s a gif comparing 2010 to 2011), at least not different enough to worry about (could just be a PitchFX issue). Since his fastball velocity is also down noticeably, it could just be a mechanical issue. Or maybe he’s hiding an injury (or doesn’t even know about it) Both theories make sense, as do countless others.

Given the injuries to the rest of the bullpen, the Yankees need Logan to pitch better than he has just to provide depth. He has to improve against lefties at the absolute minimum, since the only reason he’s on the team in the first place is to neutralize the Adrian Gonzalezes and Adam Linds and Matt Joyces and Nick Markaki of the league. Getting back to burying that slider down and away, preferably just out of the strike zone, is step one of that process.