Game 72: Let’s play two!

(Photo Credit: Flickr user mfillhart via Creative Commons license)

Doubleheaders are always fun, at least in theory. The first game is never a problem, it’s the second game when we all start to get a little grumpy and ready to move on with our lives. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that just yet, since the Yankees are Reds are about to kick off game one of today’s double dip. Here’s the lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Nick Swisher, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, 1B
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Ramiro Pena, 3B
Frankie Cervelli, C
Freddy Garcia, SP

First pitch scheduled for 12:35pm ET and this game can be seen on YES and heard on WCBS 880. Enjoy.

Soriano’s latest throwing session went well

Via Chad Jennings, Rafael Soriano played catch yesterday and “the reports were good,” according to Joe Girardi. Last week’s session didn’t go so well and the right-hander had to be sent for more treatment, so this qualifies as progress. Soriano is in Tampa after spending a significant amount of time with a physical therapist for his inflamed elbow ligament, but he isn’t eligible to come off the disabled list until after the All-Star break. So either way, he’s a month away at the very least.

The obvious and non-obvious problems running the bases

This was supposed to be a full article about the Yankees’ base running woes this season. We see them all the time: the pickoffs, the slow jumps, the horrible decisions to attempt the extra base, the rundowns, etc. But there are other aspects that aren’t as easy to see. For example, did you know that the Yankees rank among the worst for their base runners taking two bases on a single and three on a double? It’s not as easy to see, because it’s something that doesn’t happen, rather than something that does. In any case, as I was writing this I was reading through my favorite Yankees blogs, and I found that Moshe at The Yankee Analysts had already covered the topic. It’s a fantastically comprehensive view of the Yankees base running troubles, and it gets RAB’s highest recommendation.

A Leadoff Hitter Compromise

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

With Derek Jeter on the shelf for the last week, Joe Girardi has employed a Brett Gardner-Nick Swisher leadoff hitter platoon with great (small sample size) results. Yankees leadoff hitters have put together a .423/.559/.654 batting line since Jeter got hurt, which is both awesome and unsustainable. After Tuesday’s game against the Reds was called due to rain, Joe Girardi told reporters that Jeter will return to the leadoff spot once he’s healthy. As far as I know, he didn’t give a reason or explain his thinking, though if he did I imagine it went something like this…

Jete is our shortstop and our leadoff hitter, that’s why he’s here. Gardy and Swish have done a great job, but it’s still Derek’s job and he’ll get it back. We feel our best lineup has Derek leading off. We trust all of our guys.

I think that about covers it. Of course you know that Jeter shouldn’t be leading off if you’ve watched the Yankees with any regularity this season. He’s hitting just .260/.324/.324 overall and a slightly better.270/.336/.345 from the top spot in the order. The average leadoff hitter is batting .264/.328/.387 this season, so the Cap’n isn’t even meeting that modest standard. There’s no logical reason why someone performing like that should get more plate appearances than anyone else in the lineup. None.

Obviously Jeter’s legacy is coming into play here, and that’s a dumb reason to make a decision. But it is what it is, and we’re stuck dealing with it. Perhaps there’s a compromise though, one that maximizes the team’s chances of scoring (and by extension, winning) without bruising Derek’s ego, since that is what this is essentially all about. The solution: platoon him with Gardner. A straight platoon, Gardner leads off against righties while Jeter leads off against lefties. That’s it.

As unimpressive as his overall stat line is, Jeter is still hitting a stout .299/.405/.403 against left-handed hitters, continuing last year’s trend (.321/.391/.481 vs. LHP in 2010). He’s unusable against right-handers though (.246/.294/.297 this year, .246/.316/.317 last year), and that’s where he’s really killing the team. Gardner does his best work against righties (.294/.366/.465 this year, .279/.362/.396 career), which is why he should leadoff against them. Jeter will be on the short of the platoon since he’s the righty, but you know what? That’s life. At some point he has to step up and face the reality of the situation. He hasn’t hit righties for 15 months now, it’s not just a slump anymore.

Not that I would know anything about it, but the old saying is that the toughest thing for a world class athlete to do is accept when they can no longer do thing they used too. That’s what Jeter is going through now, whether he realizes it or not. If they want to bat him leadoff until he gets his 3,000th hit, fine. Hopefully he does it sooner rather than later. After that though, the Yankees have to put their foot down and start doing what’s best for the team. Platooning Jeter and Gardner atop the lineup is step one of that process.

Phelps, Betances get rocked in losses

Hector Noesi was one of seven non-top 100 prospect evaluated by Keith Law today (Insider req’d), and here’s a snippet of what he had to saw…

I don’t get the Yankees’ desire to stuff Noesi — who has long had success as a starter in the minors — into a limited bullpen role … Noesi lacks a plus pitch, and his control is well ahead of his command right now, but there are four roughly average or better pitches there with a fastball in the 92-94 range and both the curveball and slider will flash better than average … at least has the stuff to hold his own in a major league rotation, even if it’s just as a fifth guy for now with a chance to be more of a four or a fringy No. 3.

Meanwhile, here’s some more news, which I’ll bullet point for simplicity’s sake…

  • Kevin Whelan was placed on the disabled list with who knows what. He warmed up last night, but didn’t make it into the game for whatever reason.
  • Both Buddy Carlyle and Damon Sublett were activated off the disabled list.
  • Rob Segedin was promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, which is completely unsurprising. Now there’s a reason to pay attention to the team.
  • Rich Martinez was demoted from Charleston to Short Season Staten Island while Corey Maines went the other way.
  • The 2012 Low-A South Atlantic League All-Star Game will be played in Charleston, which is pretty cool.
  • Penn League Report has some scouting info on a quartet of Short Season Staten Island prospects, so check it out.

And finally, the games…

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Norfolk)
Austin Krum, LF & P.J. Pilittere, DH: both 0 for 4 – Krum struck out twice
Greg Golson, CF & Jordan Parraz, RF: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Golson scored a run and threw a runner out at second … Parraz also threw a runner out at second
Kevin Russo, 3B & Jesus Montero, C: both 1 for 4 – Montero drove in a run and struck out
Brandon Laird, 1B & Luis Nunez, 2B: both 0 for 2 – Laird drove in two and struck out twice … Nunez walked
Doug Bernier, SS: 1 for 2, 1 BB
David Phelps, RHP: 5 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 5-1 GB/FB – 55 of 83 pitches were strikes (66.3%) … picked two batters off first … he allowed seven straight hits at one point, which is pretty nuts … a dozen hits allowed might actually be a DotF record, I don’t remember seeing many totals that high
George Kontos, RHP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 15 of 26 pitches were strikes (57.7%)
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB - a dozen of his 23 pitches were strikes (52.2%)
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of 14 pitches were strikes (78.6%)

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