Update: Yankees place Brett Gardner on DL

Update (11:21pm): Via Sweeny Murti, Gardner has a bone bruise and a strain in his right elbow. It happened making that catch Tuesday night. No word on the timetable for his return, but Joe Girardi indicated that he could be back in 15 days during his post-game press conference.

10:44pm: Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees will place Brett Gardner on the disabled list and recall right-handed reliever Cody Eppley. Gardner was a late scratch tonight due to stiffness in his right elbow, and it’s obviously something more than routine soreness if he’s already on the shelf. If you remember, he made an sliding catch in last night’s game and appeared to land on his arm/wrist awkwardly. He said after the game that he was fine, but you never know.

I hope the Eppley move is just temporary; I’m not a big fan of 13-man pitching staffs. The Yankees don’t have any Triple-A outfielders on the 40-man roster, but they can easily make room for Dewayne Wise — who’s hitting the snot out of the ball so far — or Chris Dickerson by sliding Joba Chamberlain or Cesar Cabral over to the 60-day DL. I suppose it depends on Gardner’s diagnosis and his recovery time.

Mitchell nearly goes the distance in AAA win

Triple-A Empire State (2-0 win over Rochester)
LF Ray Kruml: 1-4, 1 K
SS Doug Bernier, DH Jack Cust, 3B Kevin Russo, RF Colin Curtis & C Craig Tatum: all 0-3 — Bernier, Russo, Curtis, and Tatum all struck out once
CF Dewayne Wise: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — missed a few games because he was banged up, and he comes back mashing like he never left
1B Steve Pearce: 2-3, 2 RBI
2B Ramiro Pena: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K
RHP D.J. Mitchell: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 6/5 GB/FB — 60 of 86 pitches were strikes (69.8%), also picked a runner off first … retired the last eleven men he faced … I’m surprised they didn’t let him finish this one off, you don’t see too many CG SO in the minors
RHP Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — seven of 11 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 12: For Those About To Hi-rok

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Five days ago, Hiroki Kuroda opened the Bronx portion of the Yankees’ schedule with a bang, shutting out the Angels over eight-plus innings. Tonight he gets the much less hyped Twins, who have put up a nice little fight over the first two games of the series. You can’t expect Kuroda to repeat his last start tonight, but gosh darn it, I sure hope he does. Here’s the starting nine…

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

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tonight’s game starts at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Update: Brett Gardner is a late scratch will right elbow soreness. Andruw Jones is playing left field

Chris Stewart and the squeeze bunt

When Chris Stewart stepped to the plate with men on second and third with no outs last night, many — including the YES Network booth — saw it as an opportunity for a squeeze bunt. Stewart is an awful hitter, but he instead swung away and grounded out to third, unable to advance the runners. Joe Girardi said today that he didn’t even consider a squeeze in that spot. Marc Carig wrote about the squeeze non-call today, and found that the Yankees haven’t scored a single run on a squeeze play under Joe Girardi’s watch. Fans of smallball tactics will disapprove, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“That the Yankees would have such a weak hitter at the plate with runners on — as they did with Stewart last night — is in itself an aberration,” wrote Carig, referring the team’s perpetually potent offense. “So, if anything, the fact that the Yankees rarely bother with squeeze plays is an indication that Girardi is smart enough to manage to the strength of his team.” Stewart went on to drive in three runs later in the game, another aberration. I’m not a bunting kind of guy but there is a time and a place for that stuff. The third inning is not that time, however.

Yanks welcome Jason Marquis to the AL

Today on NJ.com, Marc Carig posted a quick hit on Hiroki Kuroda’s stance on hitting. When asked if he missed taking at-bats in the National League, Kuroda replied, “I don’t miss it at all.” Tonight Kuroda will make his third American League start, and he’ll be going against a fellow newcomer to the Junior Circuit. Jason Marquis has spent parts of 12 seasons in the NL, starting with the Braves and moving onto the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. Now, at age 33, he makes is AL debut. Life could get a bit rougher for him, too.

Like Kuroda, Marquis won’t miss holding a bat. In 625 career PA he’s a .197/.216/.283 hitter. In the last three seasons he’s gone 22 for 132, a .167 average, with just two walks. The only problem, however, is that while Marquis himself will not hold a bat, he also won’t face any opposing pitchers. That could be quite an issue for the low-strikeout Marquis.

For his career Marquis has struck out 974 of 7328 total batters faced, or a paltry 13.3 percent. Yet of those 974 strikeouts, 173 have come against the opposing pitcher. That amounts to 18 percent of his career strikeouts. Moreover, his career strikeout rate against pitchers is 33.1 percent, against 11.8 percent against non-pitchers. Last year only three qualified pitchers had strikeout rates below 11.8 percent: Jeff Francis, Carl Pavano, and Brad Penny. The results there weren’t particularly pretty.

What’s worse for Marquis is that his strikeout rate has declined since his mid-20s. From his age-21 through his age-25 seasons he struck out 16 percent of opposing batters. But from his age-26 through his age-32 seasons he has struck out just just 12.1 percent of all batters. Again, combined with his strikeout rate against pitchers — 30 percent since 2005 — it adds up to trouble when facing pitcher-less AL lineups. That goes doubly for a high-powered offense such as the Yankees.

From all appearances, Marquis seems set up to fail. He’s a lifetime NL pitcher who has a hard time generating swings and misses in the first place. Now he’s moving to the AL, where he not only has no pitcher on whom to pick, but also a full-time hitter with whom to contend. It makes me wonder whether we’re in store for what Mike terms a reverse lock. Are the Yanks so well match against Marquis that they’re destined for failure? I damn well hope not. This is one guy the Yanks should pound on and pick up a relatively easy victory against.

The early season DH production

The Yankees received some of the worst DH production in the American League last year, finishing 11th out of the 14 teams with a 101 wRC+. That’s exactly league average among all hitters for all intents and purposes, but it’s below average in the context of position. The only thing a DH has to do is hit, and a league average performance doesn’t really cut it for a contender.

Early on this season, the Yankees have actually received less production from their DHs than they did last year. Although they moved up a spot and now rank 10th out of the 14 AL teams, they do have a below league average 97 wRC+. The funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like the Yankees are receiving below average DH production, at least to me. Part of the problem is Raul Ibanez, who hasn’t been anything special overall — .222/.267/.481 and 97 wRC+ — but has had a knack for the big hit. The go-ahead double in Baltimore and the moonshot against the Angels standout in my mind, not all the unproductive walks back to the dugout.

The DH situation this season is kinda weird because because the Eduardo Nunez/Andruw Jones-based platoon, and in fact the Yankees have used five different starting DHs in their eleven games. The rotation is going to force us to think about the position a little differently, at least in terms of production. Is a league average DH actually a good thing if it helps keep say, Alex Rodriguez healthy and more productive at third base? That’s obviously what the Yankees are hoping.

The season is too young to start worrying about how certain players are performing, good or bad, and that’s especially true for the rotating DH spot. I don’t like the rotation idea because it means more playing time for inferior backups, but it’s not the gravest misjustice in the baseball world. If it keeps the regulars like Derek Jeter and A-Rod healthy, then it’s doing exactly what it’s designed to do. We did see a bit of a rotation last season and it didn’t keep them healthy, but that’s what will have to happen in 2012 to smother the stink of league average DH production for a second straight year.

The Teixeira Analysis: Left-Handed Balls In Play

At least someone in Maryland likes him. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Over the last two days we’ve taken a look at the two different Mark Teixeiras to help get an idea of his where his offensive decline is coming from. There’s a right-handed hitting version of Teixeira, who continues to mash and has actually shown signs of improving in recent years, not decline. Then there’s a left-handed hitting version of Teixeira, who has racked up fewer and fewer hits over the last three years. The good news that he’s still hitting the ball over the fence and isn’t striking out any more or walking any less, the problem is isolated to the balls he’s putting in play from the left side of the plate.

Today we’re going to look at those balls in play as a left-handed batter. This post is very image-heavy, so I’ve added a Read More button just to make sure we don’t have any loading issues with the front page. You have been forewarning, there are a bunch of images on the other side of that jump…

[Read more…]