Yanks top A’s by a touchdown, win third straight

That one ain't coming back.

Weird things happen in Oakland. Last year it was the whole Dallas Braden-Alex Rodriguez nonsense (don’t forget the triple play!), and tonight it was Mark Teixeira stealing home. No, it wasn’t a straight steal of home, Conor Jackson’s errant throw had a hand in it, but it all looks the same in the box score. Since it’s late because of the west coast stuff, let’s recap this one the easy way…

  • Coming into Tuesday’s game, Brett Anderson had allowed exactly zero extra base hits to left-handed batters this year. Four pitches into the game, the Yankees had a two-run lead thanks to Curtis Granderson‘s 17th homer of the season, his league leading ninth off left-handed pitching. Raise your hand if you thought you’d ever hear that. Robinson Cano homered in the fifth inning, so make that two lefties with extra base hits off Anderson in the game.
  • Tex’s steal of home came after A-Rod got caught in a run down between first and second following a Cano strike out. Tex broke for home and Jackson essentially threw the ball into the dirt and Kurt Suzuki was unable to handle it. That’s pretty much it, but it’s still cool.
  • As for the rest of the offense: A-Rod had three hits and drove in three runs, Derek Jeter had two hits and scored three runs, Grandy had three hits total, and both Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones reached twice as well. Swish had a rough night, he got doubled off first on an infield fliner, bobbled a ball off the wall, and then got picked off third when Brett Gardner failed to get a bunt down on a squeeze play. Why they were attempting a squeeze in the fourth inning, I will never know.
  • Freddy Garcia was good enough but not great, though going seven innings in a laugher is always appreciated. Somehow the A’s only scored three runs off him despite two walks and nine hits, four of which went for extra bases (including a triple and a homer). It wasn’t always pretty, but I’ll be more than happy with that effort every time out.
  • I didn’t hear it myself, but I’ve been told that the Athletics broadcast (which is very good) said Cano is just the second second baseman in history to hit at least ten homers in his first seven big league season. If true, that’s pretty cool.
  • Here’s the box score and WPA graph.

These two teams will wrap up this series tomorrow when A.J. Burnett gives it a go against Gio Gonzalez. That game starts at 3:35pm ET, so none of this late night nonsense.

Montero homers, Maxwell hurt in SWB win

Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread.

Justin Maxwell is your Triple-A International League Offensive Player of the Week while Shaeffer Hall took home Double-A Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors. Amaury Sanit has been placed on the disabled list with some kind of leg muscle issues, and Jordan Parraz was activated to take his place on the roster.

Triple-A Scranton (10-3 win over Indianapolis) they smacked them around so much that Indianapolis had to use a position player to pitch the ninth
Austin Krum, CF: 2 for 6, 1 R, 1 2B
Ramiro Pena, SS: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB – 13 for his last 40 (.325)
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI – yeah, he really tripled … the homer was an opposite field job and it came off the guy that was the centerpiece of the Tim Hudson trade back in the day … over the last calendar year (473 AB), he’s hitting .317 with 34 doubles, three triples, and 22 homers (.541 SLG, .224 ISO)
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 0 for 5, 2 K – five for his last 32 (.156) with 15 K
Justin Maxwell, LF: 0 for 1, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB – he also robbed a homerun, but he left the game after hurting his right shoulder on the play
Luis Nunez, 2B: 2 for 3, 3 R, 1 BB
Brandon Laird, 3B: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – up to .254 after that brutal start
Jordan Parraz, DH: 4 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 4 RBI – I guess there was no rust to shake off
Kevin Russo, 2B-LF: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Dan Brewer, RF: 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K
Carlos Silva, LHP: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 9-2 GB/FB – 52 of 81 pitches were strikes (64.2%) … that’s a pretty typical Carlos Silva start right there … figure he’s got another starter or two, maybe even three before the mid-June opt-out comes into play
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 25 of 41 pitches were strikes (61%)
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 2-1 GB/FB – nine pitches, five strikes

[Read more…]

Game 53: Halfway-ish there

Still haven't changed the sign to Overstock.com, I see. (Photo Credit: Amanda Rykoff)

Tonight is game five of this nine game road trip down America’s west coast, and so far I think the net result is a positive one. The Yankees are 2-2 on the trip but had multiple run leads in the two losses against a pair of really good pitchers, which is all you could ask from them. Brett Anderson will be no fun tonight, but then again I said the same thing about Trevor Cahill yesterday. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Nick Swisher, RF
Andruw Jones, DH
Brett Gardner, LF

Freddy Garcia, RHP

First pitch is scheduled for a little after 10pm ET, and the game can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy, assuming you stay awake for the whole game.

Open Thread: Shock! Yankees players considered overrated

Ah yes, the good ol’ Sport Illustrated MLB players poll, when players around the league annually vote the players they’re most jealous of their least favorite Yankee(s) as the most overrated player in the game. Alex Rodriguez tops the list this year, followed by Joba Chamberlain and Derek Jeter. Joba was in the top spot last year while A-Rod came in second, so those two flip flopped. Jayson Werth places fourth this year followed by Jonathan Papelbon, but Nick Swisher received the same amount of votes as those two. For all intents and purposes, the top four spots of the list were occupied by Yankees. Are they overpaid? Sure. But I think you could make a case that A-Rod and Joba are actually underrated in the public eye given how often they get trashed in the media.

Anyway, I just figured I’d throw that out there. The regular game thread will be along a little later on (game starts at 10pm ET), so use this open thread to hold you over. The Mets are again playing the Pirates (Dickey vs. McDonald), plus the Giants and Cardinals (Vogelsong vs. Carpenter) will be on ESPN. The NBA Finals start tonight as well, you can watch that on ABC at 9pm ET. Talk about whatever, go nuts.


Keith Law’s Updated Top 25 Prospects

Keith Law posted an updated list of the top 25 prospects in baseball today (Insider req’d), and Jesus Montero jumped from number four in the preseason rankings to number three. That’s only because Domonic Brown graduated to the big leagues though, Montero basically maintained his spot. “I’m holding on this one,” said KLaw, “because I think he’ll hit and no one is reporting anything significantly wrong with him except over-eagerness at the plate; I imagine there’s some frustration that the Yankees are employing a guy hitting .174/.292/.348 in a spot Montero could fill.” He has no idea.

As for Manny Banuelos, he jumped from number 12 to number eight, again because of graduation more than anything. “Not a great start to the year, although the stuff is largely intact (if not quite as electric as it was in the AFL last year) … every source save one said he was still an elite prospect in their views, worthy of a top 10 spot.” Unsurprisingly, no other Yankees cracked the top 25 even though three others cracked Law’s preseason top 100 list.

2011 Draft: Scott McGough

The draft is just six days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some players individually rather than lump a few together in one post.

(Photo Credt: Flickr user boomer-44)

The son of a former minor leaguer, McGough was a 46th round draft pick of his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school back in 2008. He did not sign and was part of Oregon’s first baseball team since 1982 as a freshman. McGough has also pitched in the wood bat Northwoods League and for the Collegiate National Team during the last two summers.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 lbs., the name of McGough’s game is power. His fastball regularly sits 92-94 and he’s flashed a few 97’s with the Ducks. A sharp slider in the low-to-mid 80’s is his top secondary offering and a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch. McGough has also dabbled with a curveball and changeup this spring at Oregon’s behest. McGough is a good athlete with a loose arm, though he’s still working to find consistency with his delivery and overall command. Here’s some video.

McGough is almost certainly a reliever long-term (he’s pitched out of the bullpen for Oregon almost exclusively), but the fastball-power slider combo hints at strikeout potential and a late-inning profile. He’s expected to a be drafted somewhere in the fourth or fifth round, which is a fine spot to jump on a college reliever. Keith Law did not have McGough and his latest draft prospects list, though Baseball America ranked him the 126th best prospect in the class in their latest effort.

How much longer for Nova?

One reason the Yankees have difficulty developing pitchers is that their win-now mentality is often at odds with the struggles young pitchers face. Rare is the instance that a pitcher, fresh from the minors, pitches to his potential from Day 1. There are certain pains each one goes through, and those pains often hurt his team’s current standing. The team accepts those wounds with an eye to the future. But the Yankees, with their championship-or-bust mantra and their toughest-in-baseball division, often have to cut short those experiments in order to keep the focus on the present. That’s why it came as a surprise when Joe Girardi announced that the Yankees would stay on rotation this weekend, even though they have a days off on Thursday and Monday.

The reason for the surprise, of course, is Ivan Nova. His turn comes Thursday, and with the way he’s pitched this season, and particularly of late, skipping him seems like a fairly easy and obvious move. That would line up Sabathia, Colon, and Garcia for the weekend, and then, after a day off, the Yankees could attack Boston with Burnett, Sabathia, and Colon. Instead they’ll head to Anaheim with Nova, Sabathia, and Colon scheduled. For the Boston series they’ll have options, but none of them include Burnett, Sabathia, and Colon all pitching. Instead, CC can go in the finale on Thursday, preceded by, in all likelihood, Garcia and Burnett. The chances of them going Garcia-Burnett-Nova, I think, are slim to nil.

More important than the discussion of rotation order, though, is the discussion of Nova’s place in it, period. Again, this harkens back to the idea that the Yankees need to keep an eye on the present as well as the future. Nova certainly has potential, but as it stands now he’s not doing much to help the team win. His ERA currently ranks 92nd among 113 qualified starters, and that’s just the start. His FIP ranks 87th, and his xFIP ranks 107th. As Mike noted, his swinging strike rate, just 3.9 percent, is dead last among those 113 pitchers, and his contact rate is the highest. He mitigates this somewhat with ground balls, but it’s not nearly enough. Combined with a crappy walk rate, it adds up to a 1.59 WHIP, which is fourth worst in the league.

If this were a matter of Nova experiencing typical rookie struggles while putting up decent results, it would be one thing. But as nearly all the numbers indicate, he ranks among the worst regular starters in the majors. Worse, there is no real reason to believe that he’ll suddenly improve. That is, maybe he will improve down the road — his minor league control numbers were better, for example — but in the here and now there is no indicator of impending improvement. The Yanks will probably get a decent start out of him here or there, but chances are he’s going to roll along in roughly the same manner he is now. That’s not going to work for the Yankees this season.

There are reinforcements, of course. Hector Noesi, once Girardi found his name on the bullpen card, has done a decent job in limited action. He was already going to be one of the first rotation reinforcements from the minors, so they have little to lose by giving him a shot. There is also Carlos Silva, who has done an OK, decent, even fine job during his stint in the minors. He has a mid-June opt-out, and so will warrant consideration soon enough. Nova shouldn’t have much time, in other words.

If the Yankees do stick with their announced plans to start Nova in Anaheim, it could be as a last chance scenario. But that could end up being a mistake. The Angels have some decent hitters, but they lack power. Nova might be able to cover up some of his shortcomings if there isn’t someone who can punish him for all the walks and base hits. If good results mean an extended stay in the rotation, that would render the Anaheim game a bad audition environment. It means he’ll get a start against the Red Sox (probably not) or the Indians, both of which have produced some of the best offensive numbers in baseball this season.

There are benefits to having a young starter in the rotation, and further benefits to letting him work through his troubles. But a team in the Yankees’ situation can’t afford an extended audition. Nova has shown little to this point that indicates he will help throughout the 2011 season. It was a worthy experiment, but it should be coming to an end. The Yankees have a few arms they can call upon to take the fifth spot in the next few weeks while Brian Cashman looks around for a more suitable replacement. In the long-term, Nova might help the team as a fourth or fifth starter who can deliver some league-average innings. In the short term he’s shown that he’s something less than that, and it’s something the Yankees can’t afford.