Fan Confidence Poll: May 31st, 2010

Record Last Week: 4-2 (32 RS, 28 RA)
Season Record: 30-20 (278 RS, 209 RA, 32-18 Pythag. record), 3.5 games back
Schedule This Week: vs. Indians (one game, Mon.), vs. Orioles (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Blue Jays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Yanks rally in seventh for comeback win

After letting the Indians back into the game yesterday, the Yanks had to exact revenge today. A.J. Burnett did his job and then some, working through eight innings. He allowed a run early on, but it was just one. The Indians put together two more following an error in the seventh, but the Yanks immediately responded. That win felt nearly as good as yesterday’s loss feels bad, though the distance from yesterday certainly helps that.

Biggest Hit: Tex brings them all the way back

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

A wave of offensive futility swept the Yankees for the first six innings of this game. They had a few chances early on, but, in the same way we saw them falter during the past week or so, they could not bring any of their baserunners home. The sense of defeat heightened when the Indians scored two in the top of the seventh after a none on, two-out situation. But the players are not fans. They know how it feels to lose a game, and want to avoid that feeling whenever possible. When the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, they did not feel defeated.

Nick Swisher, minutes after hitting the padded concrete wall in right shoulder first, ripped a single to center. Juan Miranda moved him up and Brett Gardner singled himself, which gave the Yankees two chances with the potential tying run at the plate. Francisco Cervelli, pinch-hitting for Chad Moeller, struck out on four pitches, the last one on a sinker down and inside. Then came to the plate a man hailed for his clutch abilities. Mr. Clutch himself, Derek Jeter, delivered the first runs of the game for the Yanks. Masterson pounded him down and in with sinkers, and on the fourth one Jeter pounced, lacing it up the middle to score Swisher and Gardner.

Manny Acta then went to the lefty Tony Sipp to face the lefty Curtis Granderson. Girardi left him in to hit, though there might have been a few advocates for Marcus Thames in that situation. Steve Goldman wrote on Friday that he’s, “not sure why they wouldn’t” platoon Granderson. He notes that, “to the point that he got hurt there was no evidence that he had made any progress whatsoever.” Progress is not always evident at first. Progress, by definition, takes time. I’m sure the Yankees knew that the work they did with Granderson in spring training would not make him a lefty-masher overnight. It takes time, and there’s no reason for the Yankees to employ a platoon and sacrifice the experiment just because it hasn’t yet produced results in the smallest of early-season samples.

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Granderson proved critics wrong, at least this once, by smashing a high fastball from Sipp over Shin Shoo-Choo’s head for a double. That put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position for Mark Teixeira. Sipp got ahead early, slipping a slider by Teixeira for a called strike one and getting him to swing through a 91 mph outside fastball. Then Tex played the waiting game. He took an outside fastball, and then a slider diving low and in. The next pitch looked a bit outside, but Tex fouled it away anyway. Sipp then went back to the slider on another 2-2 pitch, trying to backdoor Teixeira. That was not happening. Tex turned the pitch around and put it way over the fence, giving the Yanks their first lead of the game.

The lingering feelings from yesterday’s ugly and painful loss hung around for the first six innings of this one. The Yanks changed that all with the glorious seventh. That should leave us with a more optimistic feeling heading into tomorrow’s matinee.

Burnett gives the Yanks just what they need

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Yesterday the Yanks just could not get pitching. It seemed like CC Sabathia had things under control in the early innings, but he couldn’t keep it going. Then the bullpen took over and completely melted down. After a game like that the bullpen could have used a day off. Burnett did his best to supply that kind of performance.

He kept up a brisk pace in the early going, one that would lend itself to a seven, and perhaps eight, inning performance. After a 23-pitch seventh there was some doubt about his taking the ball in the eighth, but Girardi let him have it. He needed just 11 pitches to record a ground out and two strikeouts, leaving the lead to Mariano Rivera. Burnett has delivered on that level a few times this season.

Burnett had everything working today, from his four-seamer to the two-seamer to the curveball. His two-seamer was his most effective pitch, resulting in five swinging strikes. It has turned into a true weapon this year, something he can pitch off of if he doesn’t have his best curveball. It crosses nearly as fast as the four-seamer, and it has a bit more horizontal break. He did have his curveball, too. He threw only 10 of 28 for strikes, but three of those came of the swinging variety.

Mark makes up for mistake

With Luis Valbuena standing on second with two outs in the seventh, A.J. Burnett got into a battle with Lou Marson. With the count full Burnett delivered a two-seamer at the knees. Marson grounded it to Jeter’s right, but he fielded it and threw a bit offline to first. Teixeira stretched, keeping his foot on the bag, but the ball bounced off his glove. That allowed Valbuena to score and kept the inning going. The Indians took advantage on the next batter, when Jason Donald tripled over Swisher’s head. Thankfully Trevor Crowe handed them the final out of the inning, but the previous sequence was harmful to the Yankees’ chances of winning.

The official scorer charged Jeter with the error, which comes as little surprise. On a stretch play like that the error almost always goes to the throw. However, a first baseman like Teixeira should certainly have that, and I’m sure he’d tell you the same himself. He more than made up for it with his home run. At the time it felt like a big play, and reflecting on the game I still think it was a big turning point. Thankfully, Teixeira’s homer stands out far more in my memory.

Mo making it look easy again

A couple of weeks ago, Mariano Rivera went through his annual hiccup. A lack of work and an injury hurt his command, the very tool which he requires to perform his miracles. He even had trouble last Friday against the Mets. But after his double-save day on Wednesday, it looked like he had rediscovered his dominant form. Today he showed it again, striking out the first two batters he faced before getting Valbuena to ground one right back to him.

The last out was the most visually impressive. Mo, displaying the athleticism we rarely see on display, hurdled the barrel of a shattered bat, knocked down the grounder, fielded, threw, and ended the game. Also encouraging: his velocity was up around 92, 93 for much of the inning. He had averaged a hair under 91 mph previously this season.

Congratulations, Joe

Today’s win was Joe Girardi‘s 300th as a manager.

WPA graph and box score

This type of graph was much more common last season. Let’s welcome it back.

Some crazy acronyms at FanGraphs. Traditional box score at the .com.

Up Next

They’ll play the finale tomorrow at 1, Mitch Talbot vs. Andy Pettitte.

CoJo’s huge day gives Tampa a big win

Don’t miss Chad Jennings’ feature on Juan Miranda and what it took to defect to the U.S.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 loss to Syracuse)
Greg Golson, CF & Jeff Natale, 2B: both 0 for 4 – Golson drew a walk, got picked off first & K’ed
Reegie Corona, 3B-SS: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 2B – four of his last seven hits have gone for extra bases, which is impressive considering 11 XBH all season
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 HBP – left the game after being hit by a pitch
Matt Cusick, 3B: 1 for 1 – took over for Nunez
Jon Weber, RF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Chad Huffman, 1B: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB
David Winfree, DH: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 HBP – just back after missing time with an injury
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
Reid Gorecki, LF: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Romulo Sanchez: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 9-6 GB/FB – just 57 of his 100 pitches were strikes
Mark Melancon: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 1-0 GB/FB – just four of his 12 pitches were strikes … that’s very un-Melancon-like … he & the opposing manager both got ejected, so I suspect there was some disagreement about the strike zone
Jason Hirsh: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 20 of 35 pitches were strikes (57.1%)

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Winning cures everything

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

So that was a pleasing win today. Not gonna lie, the first oh, seven innings or so had me shouting expletives and wishing everyone not named Robinson could be DFA’d, but they pulled it off. I guess I was still aggravated over that disaster from yesterday. Give it up to A.J. Burnett, that was nothing short of an ace-like performance on a day with a short and unreliable bullpen behind him.

If you’re not out enjoying the long weekend, use this as your open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Rangers at the Twins (Derek Holland vs. Scott Baker), and that’s pretty much it for sports. You know what so do, so take it away.

Hi-A prospects: Tampa

This is the third installment of our four-part What’s going on with some of my favorite minor leaguers? series. Today, we head down south to Tampa, Florida, where the Hi-A Tampa Yankees might actually be the most popular baseball team in town, which is really actually kind of sad. (I know the Trop sucks and it’s a hassle to go to, but c’mon Tampa fans, please watch your team play baseball. They’re really good. /unrelated rant)

Tampa features the most intriguing pitching staff in the Yankee farm with Adam Warren, Andrew Brackman, Graham Stoneburner and fan-favorite Pat Venditte. Among hitters, only Bradley Suttle and Corban Joseph really stick out at you, although Melky Mesa is also a fairly well-known name. I know he’s a fun novelty item, but I just don’t see Venditte (or Mesa) as a real prospect, so the list will only include Warren, Brackman, Stoneburner, Suttle and Joseph. We’ll start with the hitters.


Bradley Suttle, 3B

Drafted as an above-slot bonus baby in the 4th round of the 2007 MLB draft, Suttle was known for two things – 1) He had a fantastic hit tool, maybe the best in that entire draft; and 2) he also happens to be this man in disguise:

Suttle, before practice in 2010.

Suttle has Type-1 diabetes. Since coming into the system, he’s been pretty up and down and his time has been largely marred by injury. In 2008 at Charleston he put up a line of .272/.345/.457. I wouldn’t call it a bad season, but it’s not eye-catching either. You’d ideally like a bit more out of a guy considered by many to be the best pure hitter in college coming out of the draft, but he didn’t totally struggle either. Still, it seems odd that a guy known for great plate discipline would notch 91 strikeouts and only 42 walks in 372 plate appearances.

But where Suttle really struggled was against southpaws – he hit .219/.323/.324 against them while at Charleston. For a guy without a great defensive reputation, with average power and mediocre athleticism, that sort of thing isn’t what moves you up the levels. Still, all things considered, Suttle had a fairly decent season.

But ut-oh! 2009 was entirely missed due to multiple shoulder injuries, including labrum surgery. Not great for a guy that might not have profiled as a 3B anyway. Arm strength is kind of critical. So we fast forward to 2010. On the year, Suttle is hitting .242/.306/.327. As you can see, he’s not hitting for any power but he’s also hitting 46% of balls into the ground. If you don’t have very good speed, you’re not going to see a lot of those fall in for hits. He’s also struck out 44 times in 165 AB’s and walked 16 times. That approach will get you nowhere if you don’t at least make solid contact when you do hit the ball. As I’ve said, he doesn’t. But there are some bright spots. He’s hitting left-handers better this year at .317/.344/.362 but that’s also aided by a BABip of .404. Considering his age at the level, the injury issues and the regression in on-base skills, it’s hard to see Suttle going much further. Hopefully he’s still feeling the ill-effects of surgery and will bounce back and at least show off great hitting skills.

2010 season at Hi-A: .242/.306/.327

Last ten games: .206/.293/.206

Corban Joseph, 2B:

Corban Joseph Multi-Pass was the Yankees’ fourth-round pick of the 2008 draft. Originally drafted as a shorstop, it seems most people didn’t believe he could stay there, including the Yankees, who moved him to second base. He also rated negatively (per Total Zone on B-Ref) at Charleston in a limited sample, but he it’s unlikely he’d develop the power to play at a corner, so 2nd would likely be a position he’ll have to pick up to move up and be a big-league player at some point. But he was solid at the hot corner, so maybe the team would direct him along the path of Kevin Russo. Who knows.

Now, that said, CoJo can hit. Last year in Charleston he was one of the more consistent hitters, throwing a line up of .300/.381/.418. He had a line drive rate of 25% and was pretty even with his strikeouts to walks ratio (61/49). He did have a crazy-high BABip over the last few months which made up for early season struggles, so it really was a tale of two seasons. So what has 2010 looked like for the Tennessee native?

He’s again one of the better hitters on the team and still a young player at 21. He’s hitting .303/.354/.415 and has two home runs on the year. I don’t know how his defense has been on the season, but his stick has again been very solid. He’s really the only hitter I can see on the Tampa team realistically continuing to move up with a real shot in the show. At this rate anyway. Still, the defense will have to really improve.

2010 season at Hi-A: .300/.381/.418

Last ten games: .343/.425/.371


Adam Warren, SP

What can I say about Adam Warren that hasn’t already been said? The dude has just been straight rolling though Hi-A hitters. It’s not even fair. Selected out of the University of North Carolina (go Heels!) in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, Warren should be a guy that advances quickly. He was a polished college senior, had an uptick of velocity (hitting 96) and has the potential to impact the big club possibly as early as 2011. Last year at Staten Island he ran over New York Penn League hitters, holding them with an ERA of 1.43 and solid peripherals.

In Tampa, he’s thrown 54 innings with just 14 walks and has registered 40 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .235 against him, which jumped considerably due to a poor outing on Friday. Per MILBSPLITS, Warren has gotten tons of groundballs (60%) and has kept the ball in the park (3% HR/FB ratio). I’m not sold that will look the same in Trenton, but there’s nothing it seems Warren needs to learn here at Hi-A. Expect to see him in lovely Trenton very shortly. If anyone knows how his velocity has been and the look of his secondary pitches this year, please let me know. As you can see by his last two starts, he finally ran into some trouble this year. Hey, it happens. He was lopped for 5 runs in less than three innings before exiting the game. No biggie. He’ll be fine.

2010 season at Hi-A: 54 IP, 2.67 ERA, 48 hits, 18 runs, 40 K, 14 BB, 2.43 GB/AA

Last two starts: 7.2 IP, 7.83 ERA, 8 hits, 6 Runs, 3 K, 0BB

Andrew Brackman.

Andrew Brackman, SP

Maybe one of the more hated prospects in the Yankee system, Andrew Brackman has had a strange season thus far. Signed as a classic bust/boom player as the Yankees’ 1st round pick in 2007, I don’t think anyone really expected what they saw out of him last year. Plagued with wildness and diminished stuff last season, he needed to show some positive signs of development this year. And he has. Brackmonster started the season off as we saw him in the throes of last year: 20 runs in 16.2 innings. Still, despite the crazy amount of runs, he walked one batter in that time frame. I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable that is.

And check this out: he’s gotten much, much better since that bad stretch. Brackman has had only one start since then in which he’s given up more than one run. The walks are still minuscule at 5(!) in 38 innings and he’s notched 29 strikeouts this year. That’s pretty good. But the weird thing is it hasn’t fallen in with his scouting report. Kevin Goldstein reported that he’s been in the low-90’s (touching 94) with bad breaking balls. I don’t quite know how someone is able to put numbers up like this with two bad breaking balls and a fastball in the low 90’s, so I’m thinking maybe Goldstein saw him earlier in the season when he was getting bombed.

In May, which sandwiched a few rough starts with the rest of his good starts, Brackmonster has gotten hitters to ground out in 58% of at bats, his FIP is a crisp 3.24 and he wasn’t getting battered by a BABip of .455 like he did in April. Yeah, .455. Wow! I’m not going to say he pitched very well in April, but that’s an unbelievably high BABip, even in the minors. His FIP in April, after all, was only 4.20. He really wasn’t as bad as the box score would indicate.

The stuff is perhaps more important than the results. If Brackman is hitting 96 with his nasty hammer curve (two pitches that once hit 80 on the scale), I’d rather have that than weak stuff but solid results. Andrew Brackman just isn’t a prospect without a great fastball and breaking ball. At best he becomes John Rausch, who while a productive baseball player with similar size, relies on control. Andrew Brackman has never featured that. It’s totally possible he could, but I wonder how far he could get without great stuff. I’m hoping he’ll regain that velocity and feel for his curve. If Brackman does develop (a huge if), that’s easily the best pitcher in the system in terms of talent. Definitely my favorite guy to watch not named Jesus.

2010 Hi-A season:

38 IP, 5.92 ERA, 48 hits, 28 runs, 29 K, 5BB

Last two starts: 12 IP, 0.83 ERA, 9 hits, 1 run, 9 K, 2 BB

Graham Stoneburner, SP

One of the overslot signings of the 2009 draft, Stoneburner, featuring a plus-name and a lot of potential, has unequivocally been one of the best pitchers in the Yankee farm this season. You may remember he started the year in Charleston, where he stole batters’ lunch money and did donuts in the faculty parking lot. He brutalized them until being promoted in mid-May. How’s he looked in his promotion?

Well, there’s such a thing as a free lunch still in Tampa. Stoneburner, in 22 innings, has an ERA of 3.68 and has struck out 24. He does have 10 walks and had two very sharp starts and two rocky outings, so the consistency is not quite completely there at Tampa. In Charleston he was able to use his heavy sinking fastball to register a GB% of 55% and it’s particularly high against righties. Lefties seem to fare better against Stoneburner. In Tampa they’ve racked up 7 runs in 9.2 innings and 8 walks. That’ll need to improve but there’s a lot to like about Stoneburner’s hot start this year. He has a great arm and he continues to rack up strikeouts and limit walks. Spare a couple poor outings, Stoneburner’s been unreal this season. He might end up a reliever if his breaking balls don’t fully develop, but even in that role, he could be a good one. And one that rises quickly.

2010 Hi-A season:

22 IP, 3.68 ERA, 11 hits, 9 runs, 24 K, 10 BB

Last two starts: 12 IP, 2.50 ERA, 6 hits, 3 runs, 13 K, 4 BB

Ok folks, that’s all from Tampa. When I get back from vacation we’ll do Charleston. You can check out some of my other work at

Posada could be close to returning

Out with a hairline fracture on the bottom of his right foot, Jorge Posada appears to be close to returning to the Yankees lineup. “I think a lot of it is going to take care of itself when we see him run, which is real close,” said Joe Girardi. The perpetually optimistic Posada has been swinging the bat in the cage this weekend, and thinks he could be back in time for the team’s three game series in Toronto starting Friday. Girardi acknowledged that a rehab assignment is possible, however. Either way, it’s good to see him on his way back.

Yankee catchers are hitting just .227-.308-.295 (.294 wOBA) since Posada got hurt, so his return to lineup will be very, very welcome.

Game 50: What’s the opposite of a lefty killer?

The Yankees need a win today. It’s not a season-defining game by any stretch, but the best cure for yesterday’s meltdown is a decisive win. If they do that, we can forget yesterday and look to tomorrow. If they don’t, the harping over yesterday’s loss will only amplify.

In part one, A.J. Burnett needs to be more like Phil Hughes than CC Sabathia. He was rolling along in Minnesota last time out before the sky opened up. He was at a good pace pitch-wise, and had struck out five Twins in five innings. The biggest thing from him was the adjustment on the curveball. The big, looping, power curveball wasn’t working, so he went with a more subtle one. It acted as an off-speed pitch, which was all he needed it to do. If he does have that power curve today, watch out.

On the hill for the Indians is the former Red Sock Justin Masterson. The Indians acquired him in the Victor Martinez deal, and have had him in the rotation ever since. This year hasn’t gone too well for him, as he has allowed 37 runs, 32 earned, in 47 innings. The book on him says that lefties hit him hard. This year that has been his biggest weakness. Teams have stacked lefties against him — 122 of the 229 batters he has faced have been left-handed. They have hit a collective .386/.483/.545 against him, striking out just 14 times to 18 walks.

Masterson actually gets a bit lucky here. Normally the Yankees would have the switch-hitting Jorge Posada behind the plate, which would leave the lineup with just two righties, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Instead they’ll have a third righty, Chad Moeller. That still means six left-handed hitters, with two of the righties representing two of the best hitters on the team.

In Chad Jennings’s pregame notes he notes that Joe Girardi will stick with Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning. He’s had a rough stretch lately, but all relievers will. If this is the worst of it, Joba will be fine. But he has to continue pitching if they’re going to find out.


1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez. 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Juan Miranda, DH
8. Brett Gardner, CF
9. Chad Moeller, C

And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett.