Original Post (4:00pm): Via Mark Feinsand, Chris Dickerson’s CT scan came back normal, though the team has not yet confirmed what’s next for him. Dickerson left last night’s game after being hit by the head with a Mike Gonzalez pitch in the 15th inning. Hopefully he can avoid the new seven-day concussion disabled list, but they won’t screw around with a head injury. More details to come, at some point.
As the Yankees and Mets gear up for yet another installment of the Subway Series, River Ave. Blues is pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Fan Flair challenge and New York baseball trivia contest at the Delta Dugout in Madison Square Park this Sunday afternoon.
The Delta Dugout, sponsored as you might have guessed by Delta Airlines, is becoming an annual happening around the time of the Subway Series. Open from 11 a.m. on Friday through the end of Sunday afternoon’s game, events include a Saturday night pre-game concert by Bernie Williams, an appearance by Joba Chamberlain on Saturday at noon, and an auction to benefit Harlem RBI that will begin with a Mark Teixeira appearance. (In fact, he spilled the beans via Twitter earlier this week.)
Our role in the event comes on Sunday for the Fan Flair Challenge and a subsequent pre-game trivia contest. At 11 a.m., Chris Carlin from SNY and I will be judging fans’ outfits. The Mets fan and Yankee fan with the most team-spirited based outfit will win a giveaway package to one of their favorite’s teams upcoming games. At noon, I’ll then be hosting a special edition of dugout trivia for the Fan Flair runners up with a chance to win tickets to Yankees and Mets games.
The rest of the weekend should be pretty fun too. The games will be shown on a big screen in the park with numerous food vendors. Some other famous New York baseball folk will be making some guest appearances, and batting cages and the like will be set up in the park. Stop by if you’re jonesing for some baseball before the games this weekend. For a full schedule, check out the event’s Facebook page or find out more on Delta’s website.
The draft is just 17 days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some players individually rather than lump a few together in one post.
Tyler Beede | RHP
Tucked away in the northeast, Beede attends Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, which is north of Boston and not far from the North Hampshire border. He originally attended Auburn High School in Auburn, Mass., but transferred to Lawrence after his junior year to face better competition. Beede threw a perfect game last week and is committed to Vanderbilt.
A big bodied righty (6-foot-4, 200 lbs.), Beede stands out for his command of four-pitches. He throws two fastballs (both a four- and two-seamers) anywhere from 89-92 with the occasional 93 right now, but there’s some projection left and reason to believe he could add a tick or two. A changeup is probably Beede’s best offspeed offering, and he also throws a low-70’s breaking ball that sometimes looks like a slider and other times a curveball. The command stems from a sound delivery with a big stride that Beede repeats well. Here’s some video from last summer’s AFLAC All-American Game, and there’s plenty more on YouTube.
Beede is one of those rare prospects that offers the command and polish of a college pitcher with the projection of a high schooler. I think he’s flown a little under-the-radar in this deep draft class in part because he doesn’t get much exposure in a cold weather state. High school guys that have shown command of four pitches are definitely a rare breed. Vanderbilt commitments are always tough to break, but the Yankees have had some success doing so (namely Dellin Betances) and he has expressed interest in turning pro.
Beede was ranked the 30th and 35th best draft prospect by Keith Law and Baseball America in the latest version of their rankings, respectively, but the Vandy commitment and desire for an above-slot bonus could cause him to slide.
Screen cap from the linked NESN article about the perfect game.
Three times in the past four games the Yankees have faced a left-handed starter. In each of those games Jorge Posada sat on the bench, watching as Andruw Jones, or, in last night’s case, Derek Jeter, got the start at DH. In a way it didn’t come as a surprise. The Yankees need to find at-bats for Jones, and using him in the DH role against LHP is one way of doing that. The bigger issue, though, has been Posada’s performance against left-handers. When flipped around to the right side of the plate this year he’s 0 for 24 with six walks. That’s quite out of line with his career numbers.
Throughout his career Posada has hit lefties just as well as he has righties. While his walk rate and power are slightly better against righties, he has dunked in more hits against lefties. It all adds up to a very similar line, .376 wOBA vs. righties and .366 vs. lefties. This skill did not seem to deteriorate with age. In fact, Posada hit lefties a bit better than righties as recently as last season. Here’s how his splits line up in the past nine years (as far back as FanGraphs goes).
There is no noticeable trend here. Some years he hit lefties better, other years he hit righties. It seems like normal statistical fluctuation to me, especially since it pretty much balances out during the course of his career. That’s why it seems so odd that his skill from one side of the plate would so abruptly disappear. Then again, it seems odd that his ability to hit in general has deteriorated so much during the course of a single winter.
Still, it’s not as though his struggles against lefties are just a drop in the bucket. It might be only 30 PA, but he has struck out in a third of them. That could suggest that something deeper is wrong. When he has put the ball on the play it hasn’t been hit particularly well — just one line drive out of the 14 times he has put the ball in play. That’s equal to the number of infield pop-ups he has against lefties.
Things have gotten better lately. Posada is 11 for 40 with three doubles and seven walks in May, good for a .275/.383/.350 line. That might not be a turnaround, but it’s certainly better than his .125/.232/.375 April. Part of the reason might be that of his 47 PA this month, only eight have come against lefties (3 K, 3 BB). That makes his line against righties a much more impressive .314/.385/.400. If he can pick up that power a bit, he’ll again turn into the heavy hitting force that Yankees fans have known for years.
As for his performances against lefties, it’s easy to see the justification in sitting him at this point. But there is nothing in his career track record that suggests that he’s deficient against them. As he recovers against righties, so should he recover against lefties. Batting from the right side is, of course, natural for Jorge, a right-hander who taught himself to switch hit. The problem is finding a spot for him. While the Yankees would benefit from his resurgence from both sides, they can’t afford to have him striking out every other at-bat. It’s why we’ve seen Jones taking those reps at DH, especially lately, when the Yanks need to rattle off a few wins.
To be sure, the team is better with a normal Jorge Posada. The only question is of how much patience they have for his recovery. If he can hit righties, he should be able to hit lefties. I’m just not sure the Yankees are willing to take that gamble right now.
Well, that was a long one. The Yanks and Orioles went 15 last night, so there’s plenty to talk about. Mike and I go over the Mo/Colon decision, the offense, and what it means for the next few games.
Podcast run time 19:41
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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.
The Yankees’ bullpen has been worked pretty hard of late, and the table above a) comes from the great site Daily Baseball Data, and b) shows who’s pitched when and how much over the last week. You can click it for a larger view, if needed. Joba Chamberlain has pitched in four of the last six days, David Robertson in three of the last five with a lot of pitches thrown, 41-year-old Mariano Rivera in three of the last four, and on it goes. Boone Logan has worked so much of late that his arm is apparently barking, as Joe Girardi indicated that the ice pack on his lefty’s elbow last night was more than just routine maintenance.
After taking one for the team in extra innings last night, Hector Noesi is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Scranton today just to get a fresh arm in the bullpen. It’s a cruel world, but the kid certainly earned himself another look and will be back with the big league team sooner rather than later. So who is available to come up tonight? Turns out the answer isn’t very obvious…
40-Man Roster Guys
- Andrew Brackman, RHP: Threw 92 pitches on Sunday, so tomorrow would be his regular turn. Might be a bit of a long shot, but not completely off limits.
- Buddy Carlyle, RHP: Threw 35 pitches yesterday and 11 on Sunday. Unlikely, but possible.
- Lance Pendleton, RHP: Threw 50 pitches yesterday, so he’s a definite no.
- Ryan Pope, RHP: Threw 50 pitches on Tuesday, so he’s almost certainly a no.
Non-40-Man Roster Guys
- Randy Flores, LHP: Just signed a minor league contract, threw eight pitches yesterday and hadn’t pitched since last Friday before that. He’s just a lefty specialist though, I assume they’re looking for someone that can give them at least two innings.
- George Kontos, RHP: Threw 37 pitches on Saturday and hasn’t pitched since. He’s a definite candidate.
- D.J. Mitchell, RHP: Started and threw 113 pitches on Saturday, so today would be his regular turn. Carlos Silva is starting for Triple-A Scranton tonight though, and I’m not sure if Mitchell got pushed back to tomorrow or if he’s scheduled to come out of the bullpen after Silva.
- Andy Sisco, LHP: Another LOOGY, he threw 31 pitches on Tuesday and 14 on Sunday. Nope.
- Kevin Whelan, RHP: Ten pitches yesterday, 11 pitches last Friday, and 16 pitches last Thursday. It’s possible.
- Eric Wordekemper, RHP: Just three pitches on Tuesday but 32 on Sunday. Maybe.
David Phelps and Adam Warren have started the last two games for Triple-A Scranton, so they’re not options. Assuming Kontos isn’t hurt (just seems odd that he hasn’t pitched in four days, though SWB got rained out one of those days), he and Mitchell seem like the odds-on favorites, though Brackman’s in the mix as well. A 40-man roster spot isn’t much of an issue since Phil Hughes could just be moved to the 60-day disabled list, and if I had to guess, I’d bet on Mitchell getting the call just because he can provide some serious length if needed. Then again, so could Amaury Sanit, and perhaps a true short reliever with strikeout stuff like Kontos makes more sense. Me? I’d prefer Kontos, but what do I know.
“I just told Kevin [Long] I’m just going to keep swinging. I’m not going to take pitches or anything like that … I’m just going to go up there and do my thing.”
That’s what Robinson Cano told Kim Jones on the field immediately after last night’s game ended, referring to his 15th inning at-bat that resulted in a two-run, go-ahead double on Mike Gonzalez’s first pitch of the game, a 95 mph fastball left right out over the plate. Cano’s been doing a whole lot of swinging at the first pitch this season, with 38 of his 169 plate appearances (22.5%) resulting in a first pitch ball in play. Last year that number was 15.5%, for some perspective.
Robbie’s never been a patient hitter, but last season he saw a career high 3.47 pitches per plate appearance en route to a career high in just about every offensive category, including unintentional walk rate and OBP. This year he’s seen just 3.16 (!!!) pitches per plate appearance, which ranks 191st out of 192 qualified batters. Orlando Cabrera (2.96 P/PA) is the only one worse. Cano’s career worst was 3.05 pitches per plate appearance back in 2005, his rookie year, and he was never lower than 3.35 P/PA from 2007 through 2010. That isn’t that good either (would rank 184th out of 192 this season), but it’s better than what he’s done this year.
Jack Curry reported on Tuesday that Long had a “heart to heart” talk with Robinson on Monday about being more selective at the plate, primarily because pitchers just aren’t throwing him many strikes. Just 41.6% of the pitches he’s seen this year have been in the strike zone, the 21st fewest among those 192 qualified batters and the fewest of Cano’s career. Last year just 43% of the pitches he saw were in the zone, but the difference is that he’s hacked at 41.7% of the pitches he’s seen out of the zone in 2011 compared 36.5% last year and 32.6% for his career. Only seven batters have swung at more pitches out of the zone this season. Since the talk with Long, Cano has seen a total of 35 pitches in 14 plate appearances, or 2.5 per.
Robinson is never going to draw a ton of walks or be an elite OBP guy (last year’s .385 mark was fueled by .319 AVG and 11 intentional walks), but his discipline has cratered to levels usually reserved for the hackiest of hacks. That he’s still hitting .287/.325/.522 is a testament to his ability to make hard contact and get the bat on the ball wherever it’s pitched. But this kind of extreme plate indiscipline only works so much, the league is already aware that Cano’s swinging at so many pitches out of the zone and is only going to keep more and more pitches off the plate. Matt Wieters set up off away and off the plate in that 15th inning at-bat last night, Gonzalez just missed his spot and gave Robbie something to hit. It wasn’t by design.
As I harp on Cano’s plate discipline, I just make sure it’s clear that I’m not doing so because I want to see him walk more. That would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but the ultimate goal behind working the count is to get a good pitch to hit. It seems like Robinson needs to be reminded that just because a pitch is in the zone, it doesn’t mean it’s worth swinging at. He’s swinging at the first pitch essentially 25% of the time, and is the best pitch to hit the first one in one out of every four trips to the plate? I dunno, maybe it is, but it doesn’t seem likely, not when they’re only throwing him a strike on four out of every ten pitches. Swinging at so many pitches out of the zone, especially early in the count, just puts the pitcher in control.