Betances returns to beat Furbush

Second baseman Casey Stevenson (25th round) and RHP Mike Gipson (31st) have already signed. Meanwhile, the Yankees are going to follow the progress of LHP Kramer Sneed (32nd) and RHP Keenan Kish (34th) during their summer ball seasons before deciding on whether or not to offer them a contract. They did the same thing with David Robertson back in 2006, who went to the Cape Cod League and exponentially increased his stock by learning a curveball.

Triple-A Scranton (5-2 win over Charlotte)
Reid Gorecki, LF: 1 for 3, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB
Colin Curtis, RF, Reegie Corona, 2B & Greg Golson, CF: all 0 for 4, 1 K – Curtis drew a walk
Eduardo Nunez, SS & Chad Huffman, 1B: both 2 for 3, 1 R, 2 BB – Huffman doubled
Juan Miranda, DH: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI – he’s just too good for this league
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 5, 1 2B, 1 K – hard to believe that’s just his 14th XBH of the season
Ivan Nova: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 11-5 GB/FB – 51 of his 88 pitches were strikes (58%)
Boone Logan: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 0-1 GB/FB – nine of his 14 pitches were strikes (64.3%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1.2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 16 of his 20 pitches were strikes (80%) … why can’t he do this in the bigs?

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A-Rod leaves game with stiff groin

Update (10:09pm): A-Rod has some stiffness in his groin (giggidy) and is day-to-day. He’ll see a doctor tomorrow for a better diagnosis. It’s the same groin that gave him trouble in Toronto.

7:35pm: Alex Rodriguez left today’s game for an unknown reason after the bottom of the first inning. About the only indication of injury we have came on a groundball single through the 5.5 hole, when A-Rod took no more than a step to his left to try and make a play on the ball. He deal with a sore groin last weekend. Hopefully this is nothing serious, because no A-Rod is no good.

Ramiro Pena will play third and bat cleanup (!!!) the rest of the game. We’ll update this post if/when we find out more.

Game 60: Look Out!

With an otherwise uninteresting early-June game against the Orioles on tap for tonight, let’s focus on something else for a chance: It’s Ken Singleton’s 63rd birthday!

A career .282-.388-.436 hitter, the switch-hittin’ Singleton hit .297-.406-.464 with 163 homers and more walks (819) than strikeouts (740) during his peak from 1973-1980. He actually started his playing career with the Mets in 1970 before being traded to the Expos with two others for Rusty Staub in 1972. Montreal then shipped him and Mike Torrez to Baltimore after the 1974 season, where he stayed for the rest of his 15-year career.

A three time All Star with four top ten finishes in the MVP voting, Singy’s 40.6 career WAR is more than Don Mattingly (39.8) and at least 16 Hall of Famers, and less than a full win shy of Jim Rice. So happy birthday to my favorite YES commentator and one helluva ball player.

Meanwhile, here’s the Yankee lineup that’s face Jake Arrieta this evening, who’s making his big league debut…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, DH
Granderson, CF
Thames, LF
Moeller, C

And on the mound, A.J. Burnett.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET, and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Girardi selects Scioscia, Geren as All-Star Game coaches

Via Erik Boland, Joe Girardi has selected Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia and A’s manager Bob Geren to be his coaches for the All Star Game next month in Anaheim. He obviously wants to make sure he has a fourth and fifth catcher available. The announcement we’re all really waiting for is the AL All Star pitching staff, just to see if Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes make it. My gut says Girardi will do everything in his power to get them both there, but will keep Hughes off the roster if there’s a numbers crunch. No reason in particular, just a hunch.

Welcome to the majors, Jake Arrieta

When I put together the Orioles series preview on Tuesday, tonight’s matchup was listed as A.J. Burnett vs. Jeremy Guthrie. The Yanks have faced Guthrie a few times every year since the Orioles picked him up in 2007, so they have a decent history against him. It’s a mostly favorable one, as Guthrie has allowed 48 runs, 47 earned, in 81.1 innings. That has been largely courtesy of the longball, 15 of them. Many of us were looking forward to more of the same tonight.

(There was also the storyline of Guthrie plunking a few Yankees, but that’s not a huge deal. If he’s doing it, he’s only hurting himself. Well, himself and Jorge Posada…)

Instead, the Orioles decided to push back Guthrie a day and insert Jake Arrieta. A fifth round pick in 2007, Arietta ranked fourth on Baseball America’s 2010 top 10 Orioles prospects list. The move makes enough sense. Again, the Yankees have seen plenty of Guthrie in the past four years. The Orioles, desperate for a win against their division foes, want to muster any possible advantage. Bringing up a highly touted prospect seems like as good an idea as any. That Arrieta is absolutely dominating AAA makes the decision a bit easier.

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

In terms of stuff, Arrieta is all there. He throws a 92-94 mph fastball that “has the action to generate swings and misses.” (Per Baseball America.) He also has a slider that BA says can be a good pitch “at times.” He also has a changeup that is a work in progress, and a curveball that is mostly reserved for lefties. Keith Law notes that Arrieta is ” a four-pitch guy with no plus pitch but nothing below-average.” That puts him in the No. 3 to No. 4 starter range, though as BA notes, his pure stuff probably puts him a bit higher than that.

What holds Arrieta back is his lack of command. All scouting sources I’ve seen make distinct note of that. He can get a bit wild inside the zone, which doesn’t bode well against major league hitters, especially of the caliber the Yankees’ lineup features. He also has a little problem with the walks. He handed out 56 free passes last season, when he pitched at both AA and AAA. That was the most in the Orioles’ system. He has already walked 34 in 73 innings this year, so it doesn’t look like something he’s improved on.

It seems like the Yankees hitters should be comfortable enough with Arrieta on the mound, despite never having seen him. He plays to their strengths, not only with the walks, but also the lack of command of pitches in the strike zone. Then again, the same could have been, and was, said about Brandon Morrow. Yet he shut down the Yanks offense. I can see Arrieta doing the same. If, for this one start, he throws tons of strikes he could give the Yanks fits.

There is little more exciting in baseball than fresh, young pitching. We’ve got to seen plenty of it in the past couple of years. Arrieta is the next on that list. While I’ll hope for the Yanks to put a few of his pitches on Eutaw Street, I am certainly excited to see the next crop of O’s pitchers.

Mark Teixeira and the changeup

Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese, AP

If you’ve watched the Yankees at all this year and last, you’ve surely noticed that first baseman Mark Teixeira has had an exceptionally tough time against changeups in 2010. This was particularly obvious last Saturday, when he looked helpless in striking out five times against changeup specialists Ricky Romero and Casey Janssen. The advanced metrics are picking up on Tex’s weakness against changeups as well, saying he’s been worth 0.58 runs below average against the pitch (for every 100 seen) this season compared to 0.88 runs above average last year and an even 1.00 for his career.

The struggles against changeups carry over to the fastball as well, which is expected given the relationship between the two pitches. It’s called a changeup in the first place because it changes the hitter’s timing off the fastball. Tex has produced 0.43 runs below average against the heater this year (again per 100 seen), compared to +2.20 last year and +1.70 for his career. Clearly, he’s not recognizing changeups and it’s affecting him against fastballs, which a hitter of his caliber should (and traditionally has) murder.

The season isn’t young anymore, we’re 59 games in and Tex is hitting an unacceptable .224-.338-.388. Maybe it’s time to (forgive the pun) change things up and try something not necessarily drastic, but unique. Allow me to quote Jack Moore fromSPN’s TMI blog

Recently, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has employed an unorthodox strategy against pitchers with great change-ups. Ever since Dallas Braden and his nasty change threw a perfect game against the Rays, Maddon has stacked his lineups with players who bat with the same hand as the starting pitcher in order to neutralize that pitch. The change-up is a pitch that is typically used to neutralize opposite-handed hitters, and so Maddon is attempting to take away this advantage from pitchers with great change-ups by reducing the number of opposite-handed hitters in the lineup. So far, the strategy has worked pretty well.

(snip)

However, the Rays sent up switch-hitters Ben Zobrist and Dioner Navarro to bat right handed against Marcum, and even more telling was that they not only used right-handed catcher Kelly Shoppach as the DH, but they hit him clean-up.

Did it work? Marcum’s line — four innings, 10 hits and seven earned runs — certainly suggests it did. Shoppach, Navarro, and Zobrist were a combined 3-for-6 against Marcum, including a home run by Navarro.

Maddon essentially tailored his lineups to take away the opposing pitcher’s greatest strength, and so far it’s worked. It’s unconventional, but it’s hard to argue with the early returns. Maybe this an approach Teixeira should take, batting from the same side as the pitcher if he has a great change, reducing what is his greatest weakness at the moment.

I’m sure it’ll be a tremendously uncomfortable experience for him since he’s never faced a non-knuckleball pitcher throwing from the same side in his big league career, but at this point it might be worth a shot. I already cited his awful stats, and whenever Tex seems to be coming out of it, he sinks right back into the pit of suckiness. It shouldn’t happen with a player of his caliber, and whatever they’re trying now just isn’t working.

Of course, Tex is just 30-years-old and in the prime of his career, so perhaps it’s best to just show confidence in him and hope it works itself out. How much longer can they wait though?

2010 Draft: Closing Links

After three days, 50 rounds and (by my count) 16 total hours of selections, the 2010 MLB Draft has come to an end and the focus shifts to signing these player. Yesterday was your typical day of late round selections; the Yankees drafted mostly college players to fill out minor league rosters (those guys are important, they take a lot of the load off the actual prospects) plus a few high school lottery tickets, led by Pennsylvania righty Keenan Kish (34th round).

My summary of the Yanks’ draft strategy still applies simply because not much could have been done on Day Three to change things. In many ways this resembles the Eric Duncan-Tim Battle-Estee Harris draft of 2003, when the Yanks looked for athleticism and shot for the moon with upside. That might sound bad, but seven years ago the Yankees had no interest in using the farm system for developing players. They didn’t try develop players, they tried developed trade bait. The current Brian Cashman led regime certainly has a dedication in player development,which makes this draft much more promising. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer drafted 20 high school players this year, easily the most in his six years at the Yanks’ helm. It’s very clear they were looking to not just infuse the farm system with some youth and upside, but develop that talent into cheap big league production.

Here’s what I assume is the last collection of links for this draft…

  • You can see every pick the Yanks made here, and the best place to keep track of who signs and who doesn’t is NYY Fans. Of course we’ll keep you updated on the notable signings, and even the not so notable ones as well.
  • First rounder Cito Culver said he’ll “almost certainly” sign with the Yanks, at which point he’d be assigned to the Yanks’ rookie level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. I can’t imagine Culver wouldn’t sign, hard to pass up first round money.
  • In case you didn’t notice, the Yanks took Paul O’Neill’s nephew Mike in the 42nd round yesterday. He better watch out, they’ll make him pay to replace the watercoolers in the minors.
  • “I like what they did later on Day 2 more than what they did early,” said Keith Law in his recap of rounds 2-30. He notes that Mason Williams (4th) wants top-ten money (basically $2M), and that Evan Rutckyj (16th) is looking for a first round payday, which means at least $1.2M or so.
  • “New York went after several highly regarded prep talents in the later rounds,” said Frankie Piliere in his Day Two analysis, “and while for most clubs this would be moot, considering the perceived price tag of high school talent late in the draft, the Yankees have the ability to throw money at these players and get them signed … Also striking about the Yankee strategy was their willingness to gamble on arms. Teams in their financial position can take a power arm with a flaw and see if they can turn him around, and that’s what they did taking right-handed college arms like Tommy Kahnle and Daniel Burawa. Both have not been stellar in college ball, but have the arms of back-of-the-‘pen type relievers.”
  • Third baseman Rob Segedin (3rd) made Jeff Sachmann’s list of sleepers, in which he notes a studly combination of triple-slash stats (.430-.514-.780) and a microscopic 8% strikeout rate. For comparison’s sake, first rounder and consensus top college hitter Zack Cox put up a .424-.508-.603 batting line with a 13% strikeout rate. Remember though, doing what Cox did in the SEC is a lot tougher than doing what Segedin did in Conference USA. Segedin is a draft eligible sophomore, so he’s got a little bit of extra negotiating leverage.
  • If you still haven’t had your fill, Jonathan Mayo looks ahead to next year’s draft and gives you ten names to keep an eye on. It’s obviously very early and a whole lot can change between now and then, but the 2011 draft is absolutely, positively stacked. There’s at least a dozen players that would have gone second overall this year, and Anthony Rendon of Rice probably would have gone ahead of Bryce Harper because it’s a similar bat much further along in it’s development.