Saberscouting — the best new baseball blog out there — weighs in on the Phil Hughes velocity debate with a stellar piece dissecting Hughes’ mechanics. Frankie Piliere’s final words are worth noting:

So, what’s my point in this article? A. Too much is being made of other supposed issues in his mechanics prior to his follow through. I hope I was able to ease some Yankee fans fears that there really is no other changes up this point in his delivery. The change I did touch on however, I do think could be a direct cause of his lessened velocity since over the past year. Is it because of the hamstring injury? I can’t say for sure either way, but considering much of my focus in this article has been on that front leg in question, it is certainly possible.

But, the bottom line is right now is that from what I can see, Hughes is pushing against that front leg and not driving over and through it. Hence, the reason for the less aggressive looking follow through with his leg that I pointed out above. The problem is not arm speed, nor is it arm angle or the way his hands are breaking, at least from what I can tell. Through 75% of his delivery, essentially nothing has changed. The leg lift and follow through certainly appear different, though…

So, what to do? I’d say the first step would be taking some pressure off of that right shoulder. And, to do that, Hughes would need to once again be aggressive with his legs and get that high rear leg lift. This will certainly make his bend at the waist much more smooth, rather being pulled down by his shoulder. In my opinion, he simply needs to get his weight transfer flowing smoothly right over and through his front side rather than his weight transferring into that front leg but not over it.

Unlike Pags, Piliere doesn’t see this as a major problem, and he even allows for the fact that the Yanks would prefer Hughes to stay in the lower 90s with better control. He also feels it is an imminently correctable delivery flaw stemming from Hughes’ hamstring injury. As the youngster grows more comfortable, I fully expect to see his delivery creep back up.

Finally, it’s worth noting something John Manual said in a Baseball America chat today. “Hughes threw in the 90-94 range consistently in the minors,” Manual said, “and it’s not really a matter of dispute. We wrote 91-95 in our ’07 Handbook, and that might have been a tick high, but he was 92-94 in our ’06 Handbook, and 90-94, touching 95 in our ’05 Handbook, coming out of high school.”

That’s basically what we’ve seen from Hughes. Pitchers who throw 94 don’t do so on every pitch; they generally sit around 91-92. This idea that Hughes ever threw 96 is a fallacy created by the hype. By the time the summer rolls around, Hughes will be right where he and the Yankees expect him to be. Hopefully, by then, we’ll look back on this debate and see it as much ado about nothing.

Categories : Analysis
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Apr
09

Our old Joe

By in Front Office. Tags: , · Comments (15) ·

The Dodgers and Yankees both sit at 4-4 a few games behind their respective division leaders. Despite the 3000 miles separating New York from Los Angeles, though, these teams this year will be linked by Joe Torre.

Today, Rick A., a new contributor at My Baseball Bias, waxes nostalgically about Joe Torre. With the Yankees seemingly struggling at 4-4 in the early goes, Rick wonders, “In hindsight, was it a bad move to essentially get rid of Torre?” He equivocates on the answer and ends by reaffirming something upon which all Yankees agree: We will always look back fondly on the Joe Torre Era.

I’d like to take a short stab though at answering the question posed by Rick. I think the answer is a resounding no. To me, Joe Torre and the Yankees will forever be linked. He was named the manager of the team before my 13th birthday and served in his role until I was 24. I doubt any Yankee manager will last as long as Torre did during my lifetime, and my high school years are filled with memories of the Yankees winning the World Series year after year.

Then, for me, along came college and with it, Joe Torre’s magic touch disappeared. I watched the Yankees lose two World Series, lose one divisional series in four games and lose historically to the Red Sox in 2004. It was, in fact, after that momentous ALCS that I believe Torre and the Yanks should have parted company.

Hindsight aside, during those last four games, we saw the Yankees outmaneuvered and out-managed. Torre showed his proclivity for his guys when he went with Bernie Williams over Kenny Lofton even in obvious situations. He showed his tendencies toward bullpen abuse. He showed a lack of creative strategy when he didn’t steal off of the Wakefield-Varitek battery or bunt off of Curt Schilling.

But the Yanks let Joe linger, and the last three seasons for Torre seemed more like a battle than anything prior had. It wouldn’t have been a kneejerk reaction to dismiss Torre in 2004, and it wasn’t a bad move to let him go in 2007.

So far, I have no qualms with Joe Girardi. I think he’s done a great job of managing the bullpen through the first eight games, and the players seem to respect him as they did Torre. He might not deliver four World Series championship in his first five seasons as manager, but who can? I’ll miss Torre for what he represented; I don’t miss him for his managing quite yet.

Categories : Front Office
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No, yesterday’s game was not pretty — and that’s an understatement. We watched a series of poor at bats combined with the sloppiest defense I’ve seen in quite a while. Oh yeah, and Phil Hughes didn’t exactly make things any better. The youngest pitcher in the majors didn’t even record an out in the fourth inning, leaving the game in the hands of a bullpen that will surely be tested over the next few weeks.

Of course, knee-jerk Yankees fans were quick to heap the insults on Hughes. I got one email that said keeping Hughes (not trading him for Santana) would be a move we’d regret for the next six years. I got plenty which noted that, once again, Hughes’s velocity wasn’t up to his scouting reports. True, many of these came from people watching the Kansas City broadcast — the gun was clearly slow in the Midwest. But the complaints rolled in nonetheless.

I found myself doing what I’ve done for the past year and change: Defending Hughes. I sometimes feel as if I want him to succeed so badly that I refuse to see the negatives he presents. But then I step back and remember that we’ve seen what he can do. I’ve seen it in his stats, and I’ve seen him do it to major league hitters.

But then I think back to what we all agreed on before the season even began. No one thought this would be a cruise ship season. You’re going to hit bumps with your young pitchers, especially when one of them is the youngest pitcher in the majors. Yesterday, we hit a bump. To see it any other way is, in my opinion, just plain shortsighted.

So what does this have to do with Melky Cabrera?

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest Melky fan. I watch him at the plate, and I sometimes cringe at the hacks he takes. And I always see him taking circuitous routes to balls in the outfield, especially line drives.

The response most heard to my complaints: He’s young. And as you can see above, I constantly use the same defense for Hughes. I’ve said before that youth does not guarantee progress, but it certainly leaves the door open.

It’s completely conceivable that through experience Melky learns how to play line drives, especially those over his head. In fact, it can be said that the only way he can possibly get better at playing them is to, well, play them. This is no guarantee, but there’s a point where it’s a good idea to leave him out there and let him learn. I think we’re still at that point now, considering the alternatives.

So, because I’m so quick to defend Phil, I don’t think it’s quite fair of me to continually bash Melky. Yes, he frustrates me plenty. But on the other hand, Phil frustrates his share of Yankees fans, too. We’re going to have to learn to let these players grow, though. And if they don’t, well, that’s why the team has an aggressive plan to build the farm system.

Next time I rail on Melky for this or that, please, remind me of this post.

Game note: Just checked the Gameday data for Phil’s outing. His fastball was 91-92 the entire first inning. He slipped a few in under 90 in the second inning, but was still for the most part 90-92. He threw a lot more under 90 in the third inning. Ditto the fourth. So I’m not sure what to make of all that. But the reports of him throwing 86 are greatly exaggerated.

Also, this is kinda strange. With Billy Butler on second and two outs in the third, Hughes threw six pitches to Ross Gload, none of which were fastballs…he topped out at 78 for the at bat. The next batter, John Buck saw nothing but fastballs (though none topped 90). The strangest part of all is that he walked both guys.

Categories : Game Stories
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Triple-A Scranton (1-0 loss to Louisville)
Justin Christian & Greg Porter: both 1 for 4 – Christian K’ed three times … Porter stole a base and K’ed once
Cody Ransom: 0 for 4
Juan Miranda: 0 for 2, 2 BB – 6 games into a year, and he still hasn’t K’ed
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 2 K
Alberto Gonzalez & Bernie Castro: both 1 for 2 – the Former Attorney General K’ed once … Castro took a base on balls, stole one base and was caught trying to swipe another
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 2-4 GB/FB – 50 of 74 pitches were strikes (67.6%)
Chris Britton: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 16 of 22 pitches were strikes (72.7%)
Jon Albaladejo: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB
Edwar Ramirez: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K – typical Edwar outing … 7 of 8 pitches were strikes

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
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  • Hip, hip, oh, no.
    By

    Jorge Posada botched two pitch-out attempts today and left the game early. Now word comes along that Posada is heading for the MRI machine and could land on the disabled list. If so, Chad Moeller and his career OPS+ of 60 will assume the back-up catcher duties for Jose Molina. Needless to say, this is not good news. · (9) ·

Stadium09 In my Inbox yesterday morning were more scenes from inside the new Yankee Stadium construction zone. These shorts, courtesy of again to reader Paul V., show some scenes from inside the construction site, and they show the final piece of the façade on the way up.

The photos, all taken by Robert Barkovitz, show the Stadium going up. You can view a slideshow below or check them out here at my flickr site. Some highlights:

  • Above, the final piece of the façade, decorated with the Union flag, the U.S. flag and the Yankee flag, rests on the ground before making the trip up to the top of the stadium.
  • That final piece if laid into place.
  • The view inside shows that the Stadium has a long way to go yet.
  • No seats yet on the lower level.
  • The view around the seating bowl looks pretty nifty.

Thanks again to Robert Barkovitz for this final set of photos from inside the new stadium, and we’ll have construction shots all summer long. The slide show is below.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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After Mike Mussina’s outing last night in which he tied Bob Gibson for 44th on the all-time win list, a message mysteriously appeared on Mussina’s white board in the locker room. The note, according to Dan Graziano, read: “Thanks ESPN for the 4:00 a.m. arrival and day game the next day.”

For Mussina, it doesn’t really matter. He pitched last night and doesn’t throw again until the Yanks get to Boston. But it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for the Yankees. Because MLB wouldn’t tell ESPN that they could not have last night’s Yankee game, the Yanks were stuck playing a 7:05 p.m. game on get-away day. They had to fly to Kansas City after the fact and play a day game today. Had yesterday’s game been at 1:05 p.m. as originally planned or had today’s game been set for 7:05 p.m., everything would have been fine.

The Yankees aren’t making excuses for themselves. “It’s difficult, but it’s not something you don’t expect,” Girardi said. “When I played here, we did it a lot. It’s just part of the baseball life. You’ve got to be resilient and you’ve got to go through it, and there are no excuses.”

Even if there are no excuses, the Yankees are facing a scheduling fight this month. Because of the Pope’s trip to New York, 18 of their next 20 games are on the road, and they have one day off — on April 21 — this month. The last thing they need are day games on the road after night games at home. Either way, we play today; we win today.

Mister Hughes pitches today for the Yanks. Watch that velocity. The sky might fall if he’s not throwing fast enough. With Hughes on the mound, I’d be remiss not to mention the Big Three K Craniosynostosis pledge drive. Please consider donating if you haven’t already.

Damon LF
Cano 2B
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Posada C
Giambi 1B
Betemit SS
Cabrera CF

Hughes P

Game Notes: Jeter out; Giambi in. Derek is day-to-day and could miss up to a week, but for now, the Yankees are saying he won’t land on the DL. An MRI showed a mild strain. A-Rod remains at third base.

Categories : Game Threads
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