2011 Draft: Keith Law’s Latest Top 100 Prospects

Tomorrow’s the big day, so Keith Law posted his updated list of the top 100 draft prospects this weekend (Insider req’d). UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole will go first overall and occupies the top spot, unsurprisingly. The 51st overall player in the rankings is Oregon LHP Tyler Anderson, a guy with four pitches known more for his pitchability than his raw stuff. The Yankees don’t want the 51st best talent in the draft though, they’re hoping a top 20 guys falls, as we all should.

Considering Capps

As it stands, the Minnesota Twins’ odds of making the postseason currently stand around 1%. If you’re an astute student of baseball, mathematics and/or statistics, you might deduce that this is not good. Despite winning three games in a row, the Twins still sit at 20-37, 13.5 games back of the division leading Indians. Their fall from grace has been surprising. Virtually everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for this team. You want the litany? I’ll give you the litany. Their best pitcher, Francisco Liriano, has been horrific all year and has shoulder soreness now; their best player, Joe Mauer, has been on the disabled list for weeks; their star first baseman, Justin Morneau, has struggled out of the gate after missing half of 2010 with a concussion; their former closer, Joe Nathan, isn’t quite right after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring and lost his job as closer; Delmon Young is hurt; several key prospects have struggled or gotten hurt; they demoted one of their best pitchers to the bullpen after some not-so-private feuding, and he is currently injured; their new second baseman had his leg broken on a slide by Nick Swisher; Jason Kubel is hurt; Jim Thome is hurt; it’s already the first week in June, and they just won their first series.

It’s been bad. Really, at this point, they should be looking to unload some of their assets and rebuild. While some have focused on some of their starting pitchers as trade targets, it might be interesting to key in on reliever Matt Capps as a trade target.

Capps was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh round  of the 2002 draft and was a starter until 2005 when the Pirates converted him to the bullpen. Once he became a reliever he moved quickly through Pittsburgh’s system, going from A ball all the way to Triple A in one season, and even earning a September callup to the Pirates that year. Capps pitched a full year out of the Pirates pen in 2006, as a 22 year old, and did quite well. Rather than go through his performance year by year since then, I’ve created a little graph listing some relevant statistics that paint a good picture of the type of pitcher he is. These numbers are current through Friday.

Instead of focusing on fluctuations year to year, it’s probably wiser to take all 369.2 innings he’s thrown as a whole. He has a decent ERA and it’s backed up by strong DIPS numbers. He strikes out around 7 batters per 9 innings, not exactly elite for a reliever, but he doesn’t hand out many free passes at all. His K/BB ratio is excellent. Despite his 2010 mark he isn’t exactly a ground ball pitcher, a trait that would play well in Minnesota but perhaps less well in New York. Capps hasn’t had the best year so far in 2011. He’s blown a few games and his strikeout rate has dipped below 6. But it’s also worth noting that it’s only been 25 innings of work, hardly a meaningful sample size, and that his strand rate is well below what would be reasonable to expect going forward.

Capps is signed this year for $7.15 million and he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. By the time he’s traded he won’t cost the acquiring team more than a few million dollars in salary. The Yankees should kick the tires on him and consider bringing him aboard if the price isn’t too steep. Capps wouldn’t necessarily need to handle high leverage spots – Robertson and Chamberlain are doing fantastically – but he’d be the perfect type of reliever to soak up some of those lower-leverage appearances in which we see Robertson so frequently. Girardi has been good about keeping his guys fresh for October, but it would be nice to give him another quality arm to use in the dog days of the summer.

CC stymies the Angels, wins fourth straight start

In his last four starts, CC Sabathia has thrown 33.2 of 36 possible innings. The Yankees have won all four of those games, unsurprisingly. It’s the first time a Yankees’ starter has completed eight or more innings in four straight starts since David Cone in 1998. Dude’s a straight up beast. The Yankees won 3-2, and here’s the important stuff…

  • Robinson Cano got the Yankees on the board with a solo homer in the fourth, fouling off six pitches as part of a ten-pitch at-bat. Best of all, Torii Hunter jumped at the fence trying to catch the ball, but he instead landed on a fan. That’s what you see above.
  • Alex Rodriguez tacked on two all-important insurance runs with a two-run bomb in the sixth, a 93 mph fastball that leaked right over the plate. No fans were hurt in the making of that one.
  • As for the rest of the offense, both Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson reached base twice (single and a walk for each), the slumping Brett Gardner had two singles, and Nick Swisher ripped an opposite field double off the wall. Everyone but Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin reached base at least once.
  • Sabathia was The Man™, allowing runs only when when his defense (coughJetercough) played a little sloppy behind him. The end result was 8.2 IP and two runs (one earned), which is as good as it gets. Mariano Rivera came in for the one pitch save, guaranteeing the Yankees a winning road trip. Good stuff.
  • Here’s the box score, and here’s the WPA graph.

Rubber game tomorrow afternoon, when former Angel Bartolo Colon and (possible future Yankee) Joel Pineiro square off at 3:35pm ET.


Sanchez returns in Charleston loss

Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread. Also, Greg Golson’s hamstring is finally healed up, so he’s been activated off the disabled list.

Triple-A Scranton (7-3 loss to Toledo)
Greg Golson, CF, Jorge Vazquez, 1B & Jordan Parraz, RF: all 1 for 4 – Golson struck out twice … JoVa scored a run and struck out twice
Ramiro Pena, SS: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
Jesus Montero, C & Luis Nunez, 2B: both 0 for 4 – Montero struck out twice, Nunez once
Brandon Laird, 3B: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K – that’s his third homer on the year, last year he had 11 on June 4th
Kevin Russo, 2B: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 2 K
Dan Brewer, LF: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Adam Warren, RHP: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 7-3 GB/FB – 60 of 93 pitxhes were strikes (64.5%) … it has definitely not been an easy go of it this year
Randy Flores, LHP: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3 WP, 0-2 GB/FB – 21 of 32 pitches were strikes (65.6%) … three wild pitches? sheesh
Kanekoa Texeira, RHP: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K – 20 of 33 pitches were strikes (60.6%) … lowered his SWB ERA from 23.14 to 21.60

[Read more…]

Game 56: Bacck on tracck

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Jay?? via Creative Commons license)

The Angels took yesterday’s series opener, but that’s it. They don’t get anything else and CC Sabathia will make sure of that. 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
Jorge Posada, DH
Brett Gardner, LF

CC Sabathia, SP

The game begins shortly after 9pm ET and can be seen on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Open Thread: Hughes throws live BP

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Anna Moony via Creative Commons license)

Phil Hughes faced live batters for the first time since hitting the disabled list today, throwing a round of live batting practice with the team in Anaheim. He went through his usual warm-up routine then threw 22 pitches to batters, essentially simulating one inning of work. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Hughes did a good job of maintaining his arm speed and he’s pleased with the outing. Assuming he feels good over the next few days, the next step for Phil will be a trip to Extended Spring Training to get stretched out in advance of a minor league rehab assignment. Good news, but he’s still a long ways away.

Here’s an open thread to keep you occupied before tonight’s game. The Mets are playing the Braves (Jurrjens vs. Gee), and you’ve also got Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals (8pm ET on NBC). Talk about whatever, go nuts.

A Long-Distance Relationship

Usually in baseball, a sports fan grows up loving a team near them. Of course there are exceptions, but what I’ve found is that the best guess of a person’s rooting interest is usually a team near their childhood home. The problem is, when a person moves (for college, a job, or just because they want to), the team doesn’t come along with them. It’s nice to live in the future and keep our teams on our computers, in our phones, and on our PS3s with MLB.tv, but it goes without saying that the ballpark experience of rooting for your hometown heroes is way, way better than sitting in your living room and yelling at the announcers.

I feel safe in assuming that most of the audience here is probably within a drive – perhaps a long one, but a drive nonetheless – away from Yankee Stadium. If that’s the case, then going to see a game is really more based on your schedule than the schedule of the team. It might be difficult to avoid familial duties or work, but assuming you’ve got the money and the time, the Bronx might not be too far away.

For those of us who have been displaced from the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area, it’s not that easy. You might be lucky if you’ve only moved to say, Virginia or Massachusetts for location or stayed within the division, be it Baltimore or Boston, even Toronto or Tampa. While traveling to the House that Ruth (Jeter?) Built might be impossible, at least there’s the comfort of knowing the Bombers will be showing up nine times over the season. If you’re unlucky or stupid enough to move away from those places, your Yankees-viewing chances go down dramatically.

I moved to the bay area last year for work and end up faced with this scenario every year. When the Yankees come out here for one of their rare appearances – the previous series is the only one they will play in Oakland all year – I drop everything and pick up the best tickets I can. Appointments are canceled, work is ignored, life stops.

The funny thing about having a limited amount a games to see your team is that you find yourself wishing for a whole bunch of scenarios which, under usual circumstances, are the exactly the kinds of things you want the team to avoid. I’m an avid David Robertson fan, and there was not a single Robertson appearance during those three games. Really, it’s a good thing – he only shows up when there are jams to be gotten out of – but it also meant that I won’t be seeing his knee-buckling curveball in person until October (unlikely) or next year. Bartolo Colon pitching a complete game was freaking amazing (he looked dominant in person, too), but there was concern in my mind that I would go a whole three game series without a single Mariano Rivera appearance. I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that when Joba Chamberlain had first and second with one out, I wanted to see him walk a guy so Robertson would in and strike everyone out.

Luckily, Russell Martin only sat the first game out, and Rivera came in to preserve a two-run lead in the third game of the series. I even got a Lance Pendleton and a Luis Ayala sighting. I saw AJ Burnett throw a pretty damn decent game and Freddy Garcia confound the A’s with junkballs. But sadly, there are things that I missed and won’t get to see until next year. I never got to fill in Derek Jeter as the DH on a scorecard. I didn’t see CC Sabathia’s four-seamer. There was no David Robertson appearance. Jorge Posada didn’t get a hit (sigh).

Don’t get me wrong: I love the bay. You can’t beat the weather, they designed the roads for high congestion, you’re surrounded by nerds, and they make amazing Filipino food.We have a great hockey team and two baseball teams, all available by mass transit. But none of them are the Yankees. And I really, really, really miss the Yankees, especially when I only see them three live games out of the massive 162 game season. I’m sure this isn’t exclusive to California, either, but moving away from your sports team is rough.

(On the bright side, the Legends-equivalents seats I sat in in the Coliseum cost me $55. I love cheap baseball.)