As if Derek Jeter needed any more hardware for his mantle, he was just named USA WEEKEND’s Most Caring Athlete of 2010 for his work with a youth league in Washington Heights. Jeter’s sister Sharlee arranged for the children for participate in the league, except most of them had never played baseball before and the team literally couldn’t score a run. Jeter volunteered to coach a game and help teach baseball to the kids, and then took them all out to eat after they scored the first run. Great guy, that Derek.
A lot of folks have pondered Girardi’s decision to continue to use Chan Ho Park in multiple inning situations, if use him at all. They point to his pitch count numbers as evidence of his struggles.In pitches 1-25 Park is kinda-almost-somewhat tolerable as a pitcher, hoisting up a .308/.341/.500 line. That’s basically Ryan Howard’s triple slash for the season (plus or minus a few points on average and OBP). On pitches 26-50, it becomes hide-the-children bad. Park has been tagged for a line of .368/.429/.842(!). If the first line is Ryan Howard, the second is Barry Bonds hitting batting practice in 2004. There’s been absolutely no question that the Korean native has struggled tremendously in his first (and likely last) season in pinstripes. But has he really epically collapsed in the second frame of every game he jumps in?
Yes and no. I’ve already looked at this at my own site, so take let’s look appearance-by-appearance.
*On April 7th, game 2, Park went three innings against the Red Sox. Although I recall there being quite a few deep flies, he gave up but one hit, in his 3rd inning. No runs were scored in total.
*April 13th versus Angels: Breezed through the first inning of work but gave up a monstrous shot to Kendry Morales in the 8th. No runs in his first inning. One run in his second inning.
*On May 20th, the Yanks took on the Rays. Struggling 1B Carlos Pena took Park deep in his first inning pitched. This is after he was almost burned by a deep line drive to RF by Ben Zobrist, which Swisher caught. Not a good first inning. His second inning against 7-8-9 batters went much more smoothly – he gave up a single to “Did You Know He Was An All-Star?” Dioner Navarro, but that was all. To recap, one run in his first inning. Zero runs in subsequent inning.
*On May 22nd, Park replaced Phil Hughes with after Alex Cora knocked him out of the game (?!). Park immediately gave up a single and then got a groundout to end the inning. Not terrible, but not a shutdown either. His next inning saw him give up a single and a double to score a run. No runs in first inning, one run in his second.
*Park faced the Indians on May 31st. His first inning started with a strikeout and ended with two weak groundouts. Nice, not bad! The second inning though featured 2 hits and a walk, which led to run. No runs in first inning, one run in second.
Ok, we may be on to something here. In three of his five early season multiple-inning games, Park has given up a run in the second inning. Of course, when looking more critically through the first innings of these outings, it’s not like Park was brilliant, either. He had some good fortune (and was hit around a bit in Tampa) and then it appears the hitters took note of Park and knocked him around his second frame. Let’s see if it becomes a pattern.
*In an extra-innings game at Skydome The Rogers Centre on June 5th, Park came in and issued one walk but also struck one out and received two weak groundball outs in his first IP. The second inning featured two strikeouts, a single and one walk. No runs issued.
*Of course, in last week’s game in Arizona CHoP got lit up. He came into the game in the 7th and did fairly well. It was surprisingly tranquil. Then, in the 9th, he gave up two singles and then a monster home run to Justin Upton. No runs in his first inning. 3 runs in his second inning.
*Last night looked to be the same old story. Park came in and pitched a quick 6th inning (one walk, one groundout, one fly out). Girardi sent him out for the 7th. His performance sealed the game for the Dodgers. Two singles and a double by Matt Kemp finally put the Yankees in the outhouse. Zero runs score in his first inning, two trot around in his second.
So if we add up our tally here, in his first inning of multiple-inning games, Park has given up one run in his first inning pitched and 8 in his second frame. That’s a drastic difference.
So now you’re thinking, “Damn, CHoP’s done pretty well in just the first inning, all things considered. Maybe we can salvage him if Girardi stops throwing him back out there for multiple innings,” right?
Not so fast.
Why? Well, more sobering statistics: in games he’s only pitched one total inning or less, he’s given up 10 runs in 6 2/3rds innings. Park may be significantly worse in the second inning of his appearances, but he’s not an effective pitcher to begin with. Remember, the average hitter facing Park in the first inning is still Ryan Howard.
I’ve backed Chan Ho this whole year. Constantly I’ve said, “Don’t worry, he’ll turn it around. He has good stuff, this is just a rough patch.” No longer. We’re on the cusp of July and Park has been worth -2.5 runs below replacement. All the while, some pitchers in AAA are turning in good results and could certainly better Park’s performance on the year. At this point, I see no reason to not spell Chan Ho Park “DFA” and bring up a Romulo, Albaladejo, Nova or Melancon. The experiment didn’t work. It’s time to scrap it and call it a sunk cost.
Personally, I’d prefer to keep Nova in AAA to stay stretched out in the event we need a starting pitcher to come up. It would be nice to have a guy that can go multiple innings if need be, considering that right now, with injuries, it’s just Chad Gaudin. This probably means no Albie. So we’re left with Melancon or Romulo Sanchez. I like Romulo’s stuff and the fact that he can spot start or at the very least go multiple innings one way or another. But I worry that his control will be erratic considering that he’s thrown 5 or more walks in three of his last eight starts.
This means —at least in my world— Mark Melancon is my de-facto choice to replace Chan Ho should he be DFA’d. Melancon likely has the biggest upside of the pitchers in AAA, has been in The Show before, can go multiple innings and has been just curtains for opponents lately. He hasn’t given up a run since June 6th, though I’d prefer a better K/BB ratio in that time (2:1).
One way or another, something has to change. Simply put, if the team is not going to DFA Park, Girardi needs to put him in situations where his impact on a game is minimal. This means mop-up work in one frame or less.
Marc Hulet of Fangraphs took a look at the catching depth in the minors for two teams, the Yankees and Blue Jays. The conclusion? Toronto has a slight advantage over the Bombers with “solid prospects at five different levels,” whereas the Yankees, according to Hulet, have three. Definitely worth a read.
Trenton Thunder beat writer Mike Ashmore spoke with Mark Newman for a few minutes. Any large decision taking place with Yankee affiliates goes through Newman, who serves as the team’s Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. Mark discusses the possibility of moving 3B prospect Brandon Laird around the diamond a bit to create “positional flexibility,” and also talks about what he’s seen with Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman and a few other topics. A must-read.
It’s looking like a good day for Mashmore. He’s got another excellent link to check out. Mike this time sat down with Yankee pitching guru Nardi Contreras. Contreras discusses the mechanics of Brackman, the progress of George Kontos, Noesi and pitch counts, Venditte’s “novelty act,” and where Contreras would like to see Dellin and Graham Stoneburner finish out the season.
Steve S. at TYU has been keeping up with how former Yankees have been doing. Aroyds Vizcaino has done well enough to earn a promotion to Hi-A, though he’s struggled in his first get go. Take a look at that list and remember what some had been saying about keeping certain players. Not all the off-season moves have panned out, but some of the other options haven’t lit up the sky, either.
The Yankees have no plans to skip AJ in the rotation as they did when Javier Vazquez struggled, LoHud’s Chad Jennings is reporting. “I don’t think he’s necessarily going to benefit from it right now,” Girardi said.
You can’t win them all, but some losses are uglier than others. This was one of the ugly ones. A.J. Burnett continued his streak of awful starts, the bullpen wasn’t much better, and the lineup blew a few chances on their end. Kinda felt like business as usual during a Burnett start, didn’t it? With the Red Sox and Rays each winning, the Yanks’ lead in the AL East was trimmed down to two.
Can’t Stop The Bleeding
Believe it or not, the Yanks actually held a lead in this game. Not a cheesy little one runner either, Mark Teixeira hit a three run jack after birthday boy Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson led off the game with walks. Yanks were up three-zip before Hiroki Kuroda even recorded an out, but even Bad A.J. couldn’t screw this up, right?
Wrong. Burnett gave two of those runs right back on a single, single, ground rule double, and sac fly in the bottom of the inning, then gave up even more in the 3rd when he walked the bases loaded and allowed a hit or two. There’s really not much more to say than that. He was wild, got hit hard, same old same old. He and Boone Logan put 16 men on base in five innings. They’re lucky they only gave up seven.
NL Fever … Catch It!
Let’s take a walk through the height of baseball stupidity. It’s the top of the 4th inning, the Yanks are down by one, and there are runners at the corners and one out. The runner at first was Brett Gardner, at third was Nick Swisher. Burnett steps up to the plate and promptly squares around the bunt. It’s a safety squeeze with the intent of getting the runner to second and avoiding the inning ending double play. A.J. eventually got the bunt down and moved Gardner over, but off course the inning ended with no runs scored after Derek Jeter struck out. Icing on the cake: Burnett allowed the first two batters to reach in the next half inning before being pulled. Again, the height of baseball stupidity.
I mean, where do I start with this? You want to avoid the double play with the pitcher up? Fine, then tell Brett Gardner to steal second. It’s what he does. I’d rather see him get thrown out than gift wrap them a free out on a bunt. Also, if you’re just going to pull Burnett at the first sign of trouble the next inning, then just pull him and pinch hit. You’ve got a long man for a reason. If you’re going to make a move, make it too soon rather than too late. Oh, and Logan in a relatively close game? FAIL.
Girardi made a comment during one of FOX’s between inning interviews about being worried about his players when they start thinking too much, well what about himself? We’re not splitting atoms here, it’s just baseball. Stick with the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. We’ve seen this movie before, doing this fancy smallball crap never works with a team build to hit the ball far, far away.
Random Acts Of Mediocrity
It really is a shame no one could have foreseen Chan Ho Park struggling in his second inning of work. It’s not like I’ve been beating on that drum for weeks now, but what the heck. Maybe this time will be different. I don’t get how Girardi goes to CHoP for multiple innings in a three run game and wait until they were down by five to use David Robertson. That’s the opposite of common sense.
Jeter came to the plate three times with two men on base. The result? Three strikeouts. Not his best day, but then again this hasn’t been his best month either.
Big ups to Joe Torre for using both Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton for multiple innings tonight. That’ll help tomorrow.
It’s worth mentioning that Burnett’s grandfather passed away yesterday, so I’m not going to get on him for pitching poorly regardless of how the rest of the month played out. I’ve been there, it’s not easy.
WPA Graph & Box Score
Another night game for the rubber match, with ESPN carrying the Andy Pettitte-Clayton Kershaw matchup at 8:00pm ET.
Make sure you don’t miss Mike Ashmore’s post-game coverage of Andrew Brackman‘s first Double-A start yesterday. Also, Mark Newman said the team would consider shifting Brandon Laird to the outfield after the season, though they like him better at first and third. And finally, here’s video of UCLA righty Trevor Bauer long tossing before his start in the College World Series this afternoon. That’s pretty nuts. He’s expected to be a first rounder in 2011.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Rochester in 13 innings, walk-off style) took them until Rochester put a position player on the mound to win
Justin Christian, LF: 2 for 6, 1 SB
Reid Gorecki, RF: 1 for 5, 1 BB, 2 K
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 2 for 5, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 K – 12 for his last 34 (.353)
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 6, 2 K, 1 E (missed catch)
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – finally has as many homers as Reegie
Rene Rivera, DH: 0 for 6 – that stinks
Reegie Corona, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB – 12 for his last 26 (.462)
Eric Bruntlett, 3B: 0 for 5, 1 BB, 3 K
Greg Golson, CF: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – walk-off sac fly
Ivan Nova: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 11-4 GB/FB – 57 of his 94 pitches were strikes (60.6%) … one of the walks was intentional … he hit 95-97 tonight
Royce Ring: 0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – all three pitches were strikes
Eric Wordekemper: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0-4 GB/FB – just nine of his 19 pitches were strikes (47.4%)
Jon Albaladejo: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64.3%)
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4-0 GB/FB – 14 of his 22 pitches were strikes (63.6%)
Zack Segovia: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – nine of his 13 pitches were strikes (69.2%)
I can’t believe he’s 36-years-old already. I was too young to remember much of anything when Don Mattingly broke in, so Jeter is the first homegrown Yankee superstar that I’ve had the pleasure of watching from day one. I don’t know what’s going to happen with his contract after the season, but let’s not worry about now. Today, let’s just wish the Cap’n a happy birthday.
Here’s tonight’s the starting nine…
I’m sure Frankie Cervelli will fix whatever was causing A.J. Burnett to have a 10.35 ERA this month by whispering sweet nothings into his ear, so I expect seven innings of two run ball, at the minimum. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Yes, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver have gone prime time. Mo save us all.
With the second pick in the 1993 draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Darren Dreifort. Despite appearing in a major league game before ever seeing minor league action, Dreifort is considered one of the draft’s most famous busts, made even more infamous because of the five-year, $55 million contract the Dodgers signed him to after the 2000 season, at which point Dreifort was 29 years old and had already failed to meet expectations. By the end of the contract they had to wonder what might have been, had MLB enacted the current draft rules a decade earlier.
Tyler Kepner has a quick three-paragraph post on the matter. It was the Dodgers, not the Mariners, that finished with the worst record in 1992. Then why did the Mariners pick first? Because, like the World Series at the time, the draft had an alternating system for the first pick. One year it was the worst NL team, the next year it was the worst of the AL. The Mariners got the lucky break and picked first, while the Dodgers got the shaft.
A-Rod, as we know, debuted in 1994, a year after the draft, and played most of the 1995 season in the majors. He would have offered the Dodgers quite the option in 1996. In 1995 the team employed Jose Offerman as its everyday shortstop, and in that year he was decent, hitting .287/.389/.375. Rodriguez fell below those marks with the Mariners, and presumably, with Offerman already under contract, the Dodgers would have left him in the minors for most of the season.
After the 1995 season the Dodgers traded Offerman for Bill Brewer, who had stumbled in his third season after pitching well in relief during his first two. The Dodgers actually ended up trading Brewer to the Yankees that year before he threw a pitch for them. If you’ll remember his 5.2 innings, he was pretty horrible. I have no recollection of him. In any case, the Dodgers replaced Offerman with Greg Gagne, then 34 years old and declining quickly. I’m fairly certain at that point that the Dodger would not have signed Gagne as a free agent, but rather would have plugged in Rodriguez as their everyday shortstop.
Rodriguez, as you surely recall, went on to have one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .358/.414/.631 with 36 homers and a league-leading 54 doubles. He also won the batting crown that year and led the league in total bases. He got screwed out of the MVP by writers who were seduced by Juan Gonzalez’s home runs and RBI. The Dodgers sure could have used that. Dreiford did pitch in relief that season but produced -0.2 rWAR. Greg Gagne produced 2.3 WAR. Alex Rodriguez, however, produced 9.4 WAR. That year the Dodgers made the playoffs, finishing one game behind the Padres in the NL West. I wonder, though, if finishing first and drawing St. Louis in the first round might have changed things. The Rodriguez-less Dodgers got swept by the eventual NL champion Braves, their own 1993 No. 1 pick pitching just 0.2 innings, the final two outs of the series.
In the mid-00s MLB changed the draft rules to award the No. 1 overall pick to the team that finishes with the overall worst record. Had those rules been in place a decade earlier the Dodgers would have ended up with Rodriguez and probably would have made more of a run in the late 90s. They had just one good year from a shortstop during that span, the 1999 season from Mark Grudzielanek, but even after that he slid over to second, making way for Alex Cora. For Dodgers fans, this must be a very difficult what-if story to stomach.