Grandy & Garcia get Yankees a win over Rays

This one had all the feel of Tuesday’s loss. The Yankees scored two runs early on a homerun, didn’t add to the lead, then all of a sudden some defensive miscues in the seventh made it look like the lead was in jeopardy. They escaped this jam and did end up tacking on a few runs late, leading to a relatively uneventful 4-0 win.

Everyone's watching it go out.

Curtis Granderson Is Better Than You

The Grandyman has been grand all season, but you know what? It had been a while since he took a lefty deep. A month and a half in fact, which I chronicled in this post last week. Granderson put an end to that homerless drought in the very first inning, clobbering a 1-2 hanging slider from David Price into the right field seats for a two-run shot. Derek Jeter had led the game off with a single one batter earlier. Those were ultimately all the runs the Yankees would need thanks in part to Curtis’ running catch that ended the fifth. Tampa had men on second and third at the time, and Evan Longoria really put a charge into the ball. Granderson went back on caught it on the run, crashing into the wall shortly after the catch. The wall survived.

It was just another game in the life of the Yankees’ best player, who’s been hitting homers and making spectacular grabs all season long. That was his tenth homer off a lefty this season, the most in baseball and twice as many as any other left-handed batter in the AL. Two of those homers have come off Price, who has given up just four homers to lefties in his career (the other two came from Chase Utley and Jacoby Ellsbury). Granderson hit 11 homers off lefties from 2008-2010 combined. Think about that.

It’s worth noting that Curtis has taken a bit of a beating during the last two games; he fouled a ball off his leg on Tuesday then in this game he a) fouled another ball off his leg, b) crashed into the outfield wall making that catch, and c) took a Price fastball to the back, right on the 4 in 14. Poor guy probably sat in an ice bath for an hour after the game. Don’t be surprised if he gets the series finale off, they’ve played a ton of games on turf lately and he’s got to be sore.

Ugly hacks all night.

Freddy Sez: No Sweat!

One day towards the end of the season we’ll have a Freddy Garcia Appreciation Thread, and it will be glorious. The offseason afterthought tossed up yet another quality start, his 12th in 17 starts. He put two men on base in the first, third, fifth, and seventh innings, but wiggled out of the jam each time (he did get some help in the seventh, but more on that in a bit). Garcia struck out seven and walked zero in 6.2 IP, even getting 13 swings and misses (out of 92 pitches). That’s his third highest total of the season. Eight hits and three ground outs to ten air outs is kinda scary, but I’ve stopped caring about the process with Freddy (and Bartolo Colon, to an extent). I really don’t care how he does it anymore, he’s been defying the odds all season and has done more than anyone expected. Bravo, Freddy. Keep fighting the good fight.

Eduardo Scissorhands

No man's land.

Eduardo Nunez‘s evil twin made an appearance in this game. Sean Rodriguez started the seventh inning off by laying down a bunt that appeared to be heading foul, and it did. Except Nunez ran right by the ball and didn’t bother to pick it up in foul territory. The ball kept rolling and eventually bumped into third base, which means it’s a fair ball. A rookie mistake, yes. But good grief. Nunez also bobbled the ground ball that would have been the third out of the inning, putting the tying run on base. He bobbled the ball literally three times on the same play. Neither play came back to hurt them, but sheesh. The kid is a rolling blooper reel on defense.

HowEVA, let’s give Nunez some props for driving in a pair of big insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Nick Swisher and Russell Martin both walked after a Robinson Cano ground out, then moved over on Chris Dickerson’s ground out. Cesar Ramos fell behind Nunez 3-0, and the Yankees’ temporary third baseman did what he was supposed to do and took two pitches. Unfortunately both were strikes. The 3-2 fastball caught a little too much of the plate, and Nunez fisted it out to shallow right, a two RBI bloop. T’was a fine piece of hitting to cap off the night.

Leftovers

The Yankees have been running all over the recently called up Robinson Chirinos. They’re 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts in the first three games of the series, and frankly not too many of them were particularly close plays. Jeter and Brett Gardner each swiped a base in this game while Nunez stole two. Granderson got thrown out though. Should probably also mention that Chirinos is the third Ray to make his big league debut in this series. Alex Torres (Monday’s losing pitcher) and Dane De La Rosa (threw part of the eighth and part of the ninth in this game) are the others.

Call me an optimist, but it looks like Martin and Mark Teixeira have been making better contact of late, no? The Russtache did not have a hit in this game but he drove a ball to the warning track in his first at-bat (just like his last at-bat in Tuesday’s game) and lined another pitch to third later on. Teixeira doubled to right, the second time he’s done that in as many games. He has three hits in his last seven plate appearances, two of which are the doubles. Small sample flukes, or a positive sign? Let’s hope for the best.

Mr. Gardner reached base two more times, once on an infield single that involved Price dodging a broken bat, and once on a walk. Unfortunately Jeter ended the inning as the next batter both times, once with a double play. Swisher had two hits and a walk as well, and the only Yankee not to reach base was Cano. He had one seriously ugly at-bat against Price, swinging at three straight fastballs at eye-level. He would have kept swinging at that pitch if they gave him ten strikes.

The bullpen was perfect, Boone Logan relieved Garcia and struck out Casey Kotchman to end that seventh inning jam, then David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each followed with two strikeout perfect inning. Those three needed just 35 pitches to record seven outs, which is pretty impressive considering all the whiffs. Robertson, by the way, mowed right through Longoria, Matt Joyce, and B.J. Upton on nothing but fastballs. Not a single curve or changeup. He’s just showing off now. Joyce, by the way, struck out in all four at-bats.

Last, but certainly not least, congrats to Hideki Matsui. He hit his 168th big league homerun on Wednesday night, which gives him 500 for his career between Japan and MLB. A hundred and forty of those dingers came in pinstripes. Here’s the video.

WPA Graph, Box Score & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the nerdy stuff, and ESPN the up-to-the-minute standings.

Up Next

One more game at the Trop, then it’s back to the Bronx. CC Sabathia will give it a go against Jamie Shields on Thursday night. The Yankees have already clinched a split of the four-game set, but it’s time to get greedy and win the series.

Chavez helps Tampa to big win in rehab game

Dellin Betances was today’s Prospect of the Day over at Minor League Ball, so check that out. Ryan Flannery and Josh Schmidt were promoted to Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, respectively.

High-A Tampa (10-3 win over Jupiter)
Eric Chavez, DH: 4 for 5, 2 R – he was pinch-run for after singling in the seventh, though that was probably by design since he got his five at-bats in … the good news is that he circled the bases twice, so the foot’s doing okay
Abe Almonte, CF: 0 for 5, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Ronnier Mustelier, 2B-LF: 2 for 4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – I really, really wish I could find more info on him … he’s an older guy (27 in August), but I wonder if he’s a legit righty hitting outfield option for next year or even 2013
Cody Johnson, LF: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 HBP – he got hit by a pitch, but stayed in the game to play another half inning in the field … whatever got hit probably started to swell
Emerson Landoni, PH-2B-SS: 0 for 2, 1 K
Rob Segedin, 3B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB – 11 for his last 28 (.393)
Luke Murton, 1B: 0 for 4, 1 BB
Mitch Abeita, C: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – doesn’t play often, but always seems to hit when he does
Neil Medchill, RF: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB – third homer in his last ten games
Kelvin Castro, SS: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – I have no idea whey he was pulled in the sixth
Hector Rabago, PH-2B: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Jose Quintana, LHP: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 6-5 GB/FB – picked a runner off first … any lefty that puts up big numbers (62-20 K/BB in 60 IP) is worth keeping an eye on, and he’s only 22
Michael Solbach, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-0 GB/FB
Preston Claiborne, RHP: 2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3-1 GB/FB – gave up two homers, so that’s eight in 54.2 IP this year (1.32 HR/9)

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Injury Updates: Nova, Soriano, Chavez

Some news on the walking wounded …

  • Ivan Nova has been placed on the seven-day disabled list in Triple-A, but Joe Girardi said before tonight’s game that whatever tests were performed on him today came back negative. Apparently he got hit by a line drive in his foot in his first Triple-A start and just felt some pain in the spot yesterday. The Yankees expect him to be ready in time for next Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles.
  • Rafael Soriano ran his fastball up to 91-93 mph in last night’s rehab appearance, which is very good for his first game action in two months. He’ll make another rehab appearance on Thursday.
  • Eric Chavez had four hits in five at-bats as the DH in his rehab game this afternoon, but the important thing is that he scored two runs and ran the bases without any soreness in his foot. He will play third base in a rehab game on Thursday, his first time playing the field since suffering his injury.

Game 95: Freddy’s Turn

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Bartolo Colon rebounded from a pair of subpar starts last night, striking out a season-high nine in 6.1 IP. There’s always going to be a little bit of concern each time he starts, but last night’s effort let us sleep just a little easier because Bart showed that the clock had not yet struck midnight. Now it’s Freddy Garcia’s turn to do the same after getting hit around by the Blue Jays last week. I really don’t know if there’s one specific thing to look for tonight, at least with Bartolo you could look to see if he had his velocity or was throwing an inordinate number of sliders. With Freddy … I guess just look to see if he’s leaving pitches up? Everything’s going to be off the plate, everything’s going to be soft, that’s just the way he operates. Anyway, here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, DH
Russell Martin, C
Andruw Jones, RF
Eduardo Nunez, 3B – perfect day to start Brandon Laird, but alas
Brett Gardner, LF

Freddy Garcia, SP

Tonight’s game can be seen on YES when it starts a little after 7pm ET. Enjoy.

Yankee Clippings: 2012 Schedule, Nova on the DL

I have a bunch of browser tabs open with various miscellaneous Yankee news. Time to share.

  • From the “It’s Never Too Early To Plan Ahead” Department comes some information about the 2012 schedules. The details on the Yanks’ slate hasn’t hit the wires yet, but the Red Sox’s season schedule is out. Per Gordon Edes at ESPN Boston, the Yankees will be in Beantown on Friday, April 20, the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park’s opening. The two clubs then do not meet again until July 6-8 also in Boston. The Red Sox visit the Bronx for three game sets from July 27-29, August 17-19 and October 1-3. Essentially, the two clubs will play 12 games against each other over the final two months of the season.
  • Earlier today, during an appearance on MLB Radio on SiriusXM, Brian Cashman said Iva Nova would likely start on of the games of the July 30 doubleheader against the Orioles. However, he has been placed on the AAA 7-Day disabled list after rolling his ankle during his start last night. The Yankees still believe he will be ready for the doubleheader, and this trip to the DL shouldn’t impact his standing as a potential trade chip.
  • Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated says the 1998 Yankees were the best team he ever covered.
  • Watching the Yankees at home is akin to a baseball symphony, writes Times music critic Anthony Tomassini.
  • Finally, here’s one that’s been making the rounds lately: Light eyed players — including the Yanks’ own Brett Gardnerhave trouble fielding the ball during day games.

Mark Teixeira’s balance at the plate

It really does seem to be Mark Teixeira week here at RAB. On Monday Mike looked at Teixeira’s disappointing overall numbers, and yesterday I looked at some plate discipline and shift issues. Today we’re going to look at pictures rather than numbers. Many of us suspect that, beyond facing a defensive shift, Teixeira’s woes are at least partially mechanical. We see him up there wagging his bat, and it’s hard not to think that it takes away from his swing. We’re not hitting coaches, of course, so you can take our analysis on that matter with a grain of salt. Yet sometimes video does reveal some obvious issues.

Here’s a shot of Teixeira with the Angels in 2008, in the midst of an incredible offensive run. His stance is pretty basic, slightly opened with his hands up by his ears. I’m not going to dive too far into the technical aspects, since I’m not a trained scout. But there’s nothing that stands out here. Then again, that’s because we don’t yet has a basis for comparison.

Here’s Teixeira in 2009, another year in which he hit phenomenally. The camera angle is different than the one in Texas, so it’s not a perfect comparison. But it still seems close enough. His front leg does appear a bit more open, even though the camera angle is more centered (the Rangers camera is offset in left field). Still, it appears that he’s balanced up there.

This angle is essentially the same as the 2009 one, just zoomed in a bit. I tried to capture it at the same point in the pitcher’s motion, so we’re not seeing him at different parts of his swing. Look at that back leg. That’s way out there, far more open than it was in 2009. His balance does look a bit off, as you might imagine as he changes his center of gravity. I’m not sure how great an effect this has, since he takes his stride towards the center of the batter’s box. But it looks like his stride takes longer with the more open stance.

Another thing you might notice is in the swing itself. I’ll embed the videos here so you can have a look.

2009:

2011:

Maybe I’m only seeing this because I’m looking for something, but in 2009 it appears that his bat just glides through the zone. It’s a quick, easy swing. In 2011 it looks more like he’s clubbing the ball. If anyone else looks at the videos and sees something else, by all means chime in.

Again, as a non-hitting coach and non-scout, I can’t drawn any firm conclusions from the pictures and video presented here. They look convincing enough, as Teixeira’s stands does seem far more open, and his swing doesn’t appear as smooth. Unfortunately, even if this does identify the problem, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a fix. If me, a schlub with a computer and an internet connection, can see this in video clips, I’m certain that the Yankees are aware. But hitters can’t just change like that. Teixeira widened his stance for a reason, likely as a matter of comfort at the plate. It’s a shame if it’s hurting his swing, but there’s not much anyone can do unless he’s willing to make a conscious change. After all, there’s nothing worse than standing in the box while uncomfortable.

Scouting The Trade Market: Jason Marquis

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

As the rumors about Ubaldo Jimenez swirl, you can bet the Yankees are covering all their bases by looking for pitching elsewhere at the same time. One pitcher Jerry Crasnick says is available is Jason Marquis of the Nationals, which makes sense. Washington is out of it and he’s not a part of their long-term future, so they might as well cash in the chip before he leaves as a free agent. The Staten Island native has been pretty vocal about wanting to pitch near home at some point in his career, so is it worth it for the Yankees to make his wish come true? Let’s explore…

The Pros

  • Marquis is very quietly enjoying the best season of his career. His 5.42 K/9 is his best strikeout rate since 2004, and his 2.75 BB/9 is his best walk rate ever. A 53.7% ground ball rate is right in line with his last two years as well as his peak years from 2003-2005.
  • He’s a true three-pitch pitcher, getting ground balls with his high-80’s sinker (that will occasionally run as high as 93) and mid-80’s slider. He’ll also use a low-80’s changeup and yeah, every so often he’ll bust out a straight four-seam fastball. That’s just a show-me pitch though, a 3-0 auto-strike offering or something. The sinker-slider-changeup combo is how he makes his living, and because of that repertoire he has a negligible platoon split both this year and for his career.
  • Marquis has pitched in large markets like St. Louis and Chicago before, which is always a plus. He’s also pitched in the playoffs several times, including with the Cardinals during their 2004 NL pennant run.
  • The final year of his contract will pay him about $1.25M a month from here on out ($7.5M total salary), which is pretty cheap.

The Cons

  • After throwing fewer than 190 IP just once from 2004-2009, Marquis was limited to just 13 starts and 58.2 IP last season because of bone chips in his throwing elbow. He had surgery and was out from late-April until early-August. He’s been healthy since and hasn’t missed a start this year.
  • Marquis has little margin for error because he can’t miss bats when he needs to. He’s a classic pitch-to-contact guy, getting a swing and miss just 7.0% of the time this year, essentially identical to his 6.8% career mark. Those kinds of guys are tough to count on against good lineups.
  • He’s a career National League pitcher and has performed pretty poorly during interleague play, a 5.50 ERA and ~4.89 FIP in 168.2 IP over the course of his career.
  • He does not project as either a Type-A or B free agent and is pretty far from off from the cut-off, so no draft pick(s) if he leaves as a free agent. Marquis has already started talking about a multi-year contract extension, but whatever team employs him is under no obligation to give it to him.

For what it’s worth, Larry Rothschild was Marquis’ pitching coach when he was with the Cubs in 2007 and 2008, so there’s already a bit of a relationship and familiarity there. Let’s not kid ourselves here, Marquis is no savior. He’s a decent fourth or fifth starter option at best, something the Yankees already have plenty of. If they could get him for dirt cheap, say a Grade-C prospect and take on the salary, there’s no harm in it just to have him around as depth. The Yankees need to focus on getting a high-end starter though, guys like Marquis are filler. Not useless, but not a difference maker.