Open Thread: The Paul O’Neill (Almost) Comeback Story

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to watch this afternoon’s game on YES, Paul O’Neill told a rather interesting story in the top of the fourth inning. The Yankees, remember, went with a Shane Spencer-John Vander Wal platoon in right field to start the 2002 season after O’Neill retired, but in early-June they called up a then 23-year-old Juan Rivera (.324/.359/.500 in Triple-A) to take over the position full-time. Unfortunately Rivera crashed into a golf cart and tore up his knee a few days later, sidelining him for the next three months.

O’Neill said during today’s broadcast that after Rivera’s injury, he got a call from Joe Torre asking him about possibly coming back. So O’Neill, who was on vacation with his family at the time, starting working out and throwing and what not with his goal to join the team at midseason. Before he was ready and committed to the return though, the Yankees went out and traded for Raul Mondesi, putting an end to the comeback. Could you imagine that? That sure would have been neat.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing the Cubs (Gee vs. Coleman) and the Reds and Phillies (Wood vs. Halladay) will be on ESPN2, plus you’ve also got the NHL playoffs on Versus and the NBA playoffs on regular old ESPN. Talk about whatever you want here, so go nuts.

Rosenthal: Yankees pursued Franklin Morales

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees pursued a trade for lefty reliever Franklin Morales before he was dealt to the Red Sox last week. Boston got him for peanuts, just a player to be named later or cash. Morales, 25, was considered the eighth best prospect in the game by Baseball America just three years ago, one spot behind Clayton Kershaw and two spots ahead of David Price. He’s got a big fastball and a knockout curve, but he’s battled extreme control issues (6.0 BB/9 since 2008) and is a big time fly ball guy (just 33.6% grounders since 2009), so I’m not sure he was a good fit for Yankee Stadium. That said, you take chances on arms like this, but missing out on Morales isn’t the end of the world.

Soriano out at least six weeks with inflamed elbow ligament

Update (4:36pm): They just showed Cashman speaking on YES, and he clarified that Soriano would begin throwing to hitters in four-to-six weeks following the two weeks of rest, so two months sounds like a decent estimate of how long he’ll be out. Dr. James Andrews diagnosed an inflamed elbow ligament and is optimistic that the rest and rehab approach will knock this out. Andrews did Soriano’s Tommy John surgery back in the day, by the way.

Original Post (4:16pm): Via Conor Orr, Rafael Soriano will be out at least four-to-six weeks with an elbow issue. No word if it’s a ligament, tendon, muscle, or something else entirely. Brian Cashman confirmed that the right-hander will rest for two weeks before he can begin a “conservative” throwing program, which will lead to a four-to-six week rehab program. Sounds like he’ll be out for two months, essentially.

Yankees bring back Kanekoa Texeira

The Yankees have claimed Kanekoa Texeira off waivers according to the Royals, but credit Mike Ashmore for first having it. Conor Orr says Phil Hughes has been placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster. Texeira came to the Yankees in the Nick Swisher trade three winters ago, but he went to Seattle in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft before bouncing to Kansas City. I wrote about him in last week’s mailbag, and the short version is that it’s a fine depth move but one that will hardly have much impact. Welcome back, Kanekoa.

2011 Draft: Baseball America’s Top 200 Prospects

At this time in two weeks, the 2011 draft will be coming to an end. Hard to believe it’s so close. Baseball America posted their list of the top 200 prospects today, and it’s free for all to see. You do need a subscription to see the scouting reports, however (1-50, 51-100, 101-150, 151-200). Rice 3B Anthony Rendon still ranks number one, but high school RHP Dylan Bundy has jumped everyone and claimed the number two spot. UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole, Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen, and UCLA RHP Trevor Bauer round out the top five. The free list gives you each player’s statistics, so that’s cool.

Game 48: Gettin’ Away

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

This 16 games in 16 days stretch has been interesting, to say the least. Six straight losses early on, six wins in eight games with some cameback fun mixed in at the end, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest two weeks on the old blood pressure. A win this afternoon, heading into the off day and west coast trip, would be a fine finish to a decidedly un-Yankees-like stretch of baseball. Here’s the starting nine…

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

Freddy Garcia, SP

The game starts a little after 1pm ET, and you can watch on YES or listen on WCBS 880 if you’re stuck at the office. Enjoy.

2011 Draft: Bryan Brickhouse

The draft is just 12 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 Credit: The Woodlands Villager)

Bryan Brickhouse | RHP

Brickhouse attends The Woodlands High School in Texas, which produced flamethrowing righties Kyle Drabek (18th overall in 2006) and Jameson Taillon (second overall in 2010) in recent years. Brickhouse isn’t the same level of prospect as those two, but he certainly fits the power arm profile. A strong commitment to North Carolina might make him unsignable unless he gets that Drabek/Taillon kind of money though.

Scouting Report
Big and strong at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs., Brickhouse routinely sits at 91-93 mph with his fastball and will run it up as high as 95 on occasion. He also throws a power curveball that can be unhittable when it’s on, but there are times when he doesn’t get on top of the pitch enough and it flattens out into more of a sweepy slider. His changeup is in its infancy stages. Brickhouse struggles with his mechanics and has yet to find consistency with his delivery, leading to arm slot and command problems. He’s some video from last summer.

The UNC commitment is the wildcard here. The talent and everything else adds up to a second round selection, but if Brickhouse throws a big number out there I could easily see him falling into the later rounds, I’m talking double digit rounds similar to Alex Meyer in 2008 (first round arm, unsigned 20th round pick because he wanted multi-millions). The command and mechanical issues are what’s keeping Brickhouse from being one of the top high school arms in the draft class, so he’s a nice high-upside project for a team with money and patience.

Keith Law ranked Brickhouse as the 90th best prospect in the draft in his latest rankings while Baseball America left him off their latest top 60.