Despite back-to-back rain outs in Cleveland these last two days, the Yankees will not alter their rotation heading into this weekend’s series against the Orioles. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte will start the next three games in that order, meaning Phil Hughes is having his start skipped just like Ivan Nova. Hughes told Meredith Marakovits he’ll be available out of the bullpen this weekend, which is pretty awesome actually. He’s always been very effective in relief. Monday’s off-day affords the team some extra pitching flexibility as well. Hughes is currently scheduled to start Tuesday against the Diamondbacks pending his usage this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Yankees will have to trek back to Ohio to make up not one, but two games at some point this summer. They share only four common off-days with the Indians, not counting the Thursday following the All-Star Game and the day between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason…
- Monday, April 15th
- Thursday, May 2nd
- Monday, May 13th
- Monday, September 23rd
April 15th is this coming Monday, right smack in the middle of a six-game homestand. May 2nd and September 23rd are also right in the middle of homestands while the Yankees will be traveling from Kansas City back to New York on May 13th. I think there’s a pretty good chance they’ll schedule a doubleheader for one of those dates and bang out both games at once. September 23rd is probably the most preferably makeup date in terms of reducing the number of consecutive days with a game (from the Yankees’ perspective) since they have both the prior and following Monday off.
Now here’s where things get really messy: it’s supposed to rain all day in New York tomorrow. The heaviest stuff is expected in the morning, but the forecast right now says the showers will continue through the night. Three consecutive rain outs (in two different cities) would be pretty crummy. Not only would the bombers have three postponed games to make up just two weeks into the new season, but you also have to worry about the hitters losing their rhythm and what not. The Yankees’ bats did some major damage on Monday and Tuesday and I really would like that to continue. Nothing they can do though, the weather is the weather. Unfortunate timing.
The Yankees and Indians were rained out last night, and unfortunately tonight’s forecast isn’t looking any better. If anything, it actually looks worse. Timing is everything though, so maybe the rain will hold off long enough for them to squeeze the game in before returning back to New York.
Because the Yankees do not make another trip to Cleveland this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if they waited as long as possible to get this game in. Remember two or three years ago when that game against the Orioles started at like, 11:45pm ET? Something like that. Then again, it is only April, maybe they won’t wait around as long and instead worry about the scheduling later. I just don’t want an older roster to lose too many precious off-days during the summer. On the other hand, every game postponed this month is one fewer game the Yankees will have to play without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira et al. Here’s the starting lineup…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- DH Travis Hafner
- LF Vernon Wells
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- C Frankie Cervelli
And on the mound is the one-time All-Star, Phil Hughes.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET but the rain, blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. You can watch this one on YES locally and MLB Network nationally whenever it does begin. Enjoy.
Rotation Update: The Yankees have already sent CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte back to New York so they wouldn’t have to wait around for the rain with the rest of the team in Cleveland. The trio is scheduled to start against the Orioles this weekend.
Mark Teixeira Update: Teixeira and his injured wrist will be re-evaluated tomorrow and he hopes to be cleared to swing a bat. If he is, he’ll start with a fungo bat and gradually work his way up. He’s optimistic he’ll be able to take full batting practice next week and play in Extended Spring training soon thereafter.
Update (6:39pm): The game will not start on time, it was just announced. It hasn’t started raining yet in Cleveland, but it will soon. No word on a tentative start time. This … might be a while.
Update (8:07pm): They’re saying the game will start at 8:30pm ET.
Update (8:34pm): Apparently the ceremonial first pitch has been thrown and the lineups have been announced, but the tarp is still on the field. Okay then.
Update (8:55pm): Indians closer Chris Perez said the game has been postponed on Twitter. No official word yet.
Update (9:02pm): Yep, the game has officially been postponed. Same deal as yesterday’s game, meaning no word on a makeup date.
According to the man himself, Curtis Granderson threw for the first time today since having his right forearm fractured by a pitch in early Spring Training. He said everything went “really well,” so hooray for that.
Granderson, 32, is expected to return to the team in early-May, which isn’t all that far away really. The Yankees insist he will remain in center field when he returns for whatever reason. One thing we have to remember is that Granderson missed all of camp, so his minor league rehab stint will have to be longer than usual. It won’t be two quick games with Double-A Trenton or anything like that, he’ll need a good week or two of at-bats before being ready for the big leagues. · (11) ·
The Yankees will skip Ivan Nova’s turn through the rotation following last night’s rain out, Joe Girardi confirmed. Phil Hughes will start tonight as scheduled — stomach bug and weather permitting — and Nova will instead get the ball in five days.
I hope the Yankees will take this opportunity to split up Hughes and Nova in the rotation, just for the sake of easing the load on the bullpen down the road. Those two back-to-back could create some headaches. Even if they don’t do that, skipping Nova completely sure seems to indicate the team doesn’t have much faith in him in the moment. Perhaps he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are working on something on the side, but this doesn’t look like vote of confidence in the young right-hander. Hard to say it’s undeserved. · (33) ·
Thursday: Badler says all 30 teams were also assigned international “slot” values, indicating a worldwide draft may be forthcoming. There are 120 slots (four rounds) and the Yankees are allotted $1,177,900 total, including $487,200 for their first pick (28th overall).
Tuesday: Via Ben Badler: The Yankees have a $1,877,900 international spending pool this summer, the third lowest in baseball by virtue of having the third best record in the league last year. The Astros, meanwhile, will have just under $5M at their disposal. The international signing period officially begins on July 2nd.
Every team was allocated $2.9M for international players last summer, which the Yankees spent on the first day of the signing period on three players: C Luis Torrens, OF Alex Palma, and IF Yancarlos Baez. The spending pools are scaled based on the previous year’s record now, though there has been plenty of talk about a worldwide draft lately. Either way, the Yankees used the international market to build their farm system for decades because of the ability to spend freely, but that ability has now been taken away. That isn’t good for anyone, especially the players. · (51) ·
You’re already familiar with the standard defensive stats. Load up any player’s FanGraphs page and you’ll see plenty of them laid out for you: UZR and DRS primarily, along with some other experimental stats and of course the traditional ones. Where these stats have always fallen short comes at perhaps the most important defensive position. Other than stolen base rate, we don’t have many solid ways of measuring catcher productivity.
Part of the problem in evaluating catchers involves the number of variables involved. Does he call a good game? (Does he call the game at all?) Can he frame a pitch to steal his pitcher strikes that would have, with a less skilled framer, be called balls? How many potential wild pitches can he keep in front of him? Does he have the footwork necessary to make quality throws to second — and does he have a strong and accurate arm in general? And then we have the general, overarching question: how does he handle the pitching staff? That can be reworded as, do the pitchers like throwing to him?
While stolen base numbers are readily available, they don’t reflect solely on the catcher. If you read Jonah Keri’s article on stolen bases, you see that runners go on pitcher movement. If the pitcher has any deficiencies when delivering the ball with men on base, the catcher will likely have poor stolen base numbers. If a staff has more than one or two pitchers who are poor at holding on runners, a catcher could have numbers that teach us nothing about his true throwing abilities. That leaves us with even less an understanding of a catcher’s true defensive abilities.
In the past few years a few researchers have attempted to quantify some aspects of catcher defense. In 2011 Max Marchi got the ball rolling on catcher framing. (Though my main man Dan Turkenkopf attempting framing analysis three years earlier.) A few months later Bojan Koprivica studied catcher blocking skills. In between those two Mike Fast released his extensive report on catcher framing. Somewhere along the way, Baseball Info Solutions started tracking how many runs catchers can save by throwing out runners and preventing them from stealing in the first place (Stolen Base Runs Saved, or rSB, which can be found on FanGraphs). A little over a year ago, Max Marchi tried to put it all together. So we are making progress. It’s just difficult to tell what’s accurate at this point.
Earlier this week, James Gentile of Beyond the Boxscore explored a simpler catcher framing metric. While the results are interesting, there was one part of the article that stuck out to me. Via a Ben Lindbergh article Gentile points to a recent Baseball Tonight podcast, in which Jose Molina discusses his framing. Remember, Molina comes out on top of almost every framing study, which is presumably a big reason why the Rays signed him to a two-year contract after the 2011 season, despite his flaws on offense. For his part, Molina credits none other than Tony Pena and Joe Girardi with his phenomenal receiving skills.
It was 2008. Mike Mussina and Tony Pena, with Joe Girardi, the coaches there. But mostly Tony told me that if I turned a little bit side to side, either way, either corner, I’m going to get more strikes. With Mussina, he wasn’t throwing that hard at the time. So I was always open to learning new things. We worked on it, I got a little bit better at it. And it started working. I guess it worked, right? It was 20 wins for him that year, so it just worked, and from that point on, I think I took advantage of that.
This should come as little surprise. Pena has always been known as a knowledgeable guy who works extensively with the Yankees’ catchers. Molina had always carried a reputation as a quality defender (but that could have been the Nichols Law of Catcher Defense). But given the numbers Gentile presents, it does appear that he picked up a little something from Pena and Girardi. Of the top 10 catching seasons since 2002, Molina holds four spots, and all but one came after the Yankees acquired him. The lone standout is 2007; Molina became a Yankee that July.
One of the reasons people lamented the loss of Russ Martin centers on his framing abilities. He ranked right behind Molina in Mike Fast’s study, and watching him everyday in 2011 and 2012 helped confirm that evaluation. The man was swift behind the plate. At the same time Francisco Cervelli, Martin’s replacement, is seen as a poor receiver who stabs at the ball rather than cradling it — not to mention his poor stolen base results. And forget Chris Stewart. The Yankees acquired him last year with an eye towards his defensive reputation. Yet in a season-plus I haven’t noticed Stewart display any standout skills behind the plate.
A look at Gentile’s numbers yields a different result. In his top 10 catchers since 2002, the list that Jose Molina owns, you’ll see both Cervelli and Stewart. Cervelli’s 2011 season ranks No. 2, while Chris Stewart’s 2012 ranks No. 8. So perhaps there was a reason the Yankees let Martin walk after last season without as much as a courtesy offer. Perhaps they believed that they already had two capable catchers on staff.
(And maybe, though we’ll hardly know it, the pitchers prefer throwing to Cervelli over Martin. It sure seems that way for CC Sabathia, who used Cervelli in 2010 and 2011 and Stewart in 2012.)
This isn’t to say that these stats are definitive. Again, the position of catcher involves more complexity than any other. But it is nice to see that at least one method of evaluation appreciates the catchers the Yankees currently carry. Though having Pena and Girardi work with them could be the most valuable aspect of all.
Matt Eddy has a list of updated minor league park factors. High-A Tampa plays in a nearly neutral stadium (George M. Steinbrenner Field), but the other three full season affiliates are all in pitcher’s parks.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They’ll make the game up as part of a doubleheader on June 17th.
Double-A Trenton (6-3 loss to New Hampshire)
- CF Ramon Flores: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — gave Slade Heathcott the afternoon off
- 2B Jose Pirela: 2-5
- Tyler Austin: 0-4, 3 K — that’s ten strikeouts in 27 plate appearances so far (37%)
- C Kyle Higashioka: 1-4, 1 2B — have J.R. Murphy the afternoon off
- LHP Nik Turley: 6 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 Balk, 5/2 GB/FB — 51 of 80 pitches were strikes (64%) … knocked around for the second straight start
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 19 of 31 pitches were strikes (61%)
For the first time in 2013, it looks like the weather may interfere with a Yankees game. The forecast in Cleveland calls for rain tonight, though it appears there might be just enough of a window to squeeze nine innings in. I’ll settle for a rain-shortened five-inning win if I have to.
The Yankees do not come back to Cleveland at all this year, so if tonight’s game is indeed postponed due to weather, they’ll either have to play a doubleheader tomorrow or lose an off-day at some point later in the summer. Since it’s so early in the season, I’d rather just play the two games tomorrow if it comes to that. Call up the 26th man (Cody Eppley?) and get it over with. Hopefully they can play tonight and all of this is moot. Here’s the lineup…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- DH Travis Hafner
- LF Vernon Wells
- RF Brennan Boesch
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is the most frustrating pitcher in the rotation, Ivan Nova.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and ESPN2 nationally, but again, the weather may throw a wrench into that. Enjoy the game if they do play.
Update (6:43pm): The game will not start on time and we are in a “holding pattern.” Not sure what that means, but okay.
Update (7:55pm): The game has been postponed. No word on the makeup date yet, but there will not be a doubleheader tomorrow. That means both teams will lose an off-day at since point and the Yankees will have to trek back to Cleveland. Sucks. Use this as an open thread instead.
Got a trio of injury updates, courtesy of the AP…
- Derek Jeter (ankle) did some light running on the bases for the second consecutive day today, going first-to-third and third-to-first three times apiece. He also fielded 45 ground balls at short and started making throws to first, plus he took 32 swings in batting practice on the field.
- Curtis Granderson (forearm) had a round of follow-up x-rays yesterday and could be cleared to throw as soon as tomorrow. “Everything is looking good,” he said. Granderson has reportedly been cleared to swing a bat underwater, and he hopes to be given the okay to swing a fungo bat this weekend.
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) faced hitters for the first time since surgery in a scheduled round of live batting practice on Tuesday. No word on how many pitches he threw or anything like that, but it’s still really good news. Big step in the rehab process.
This isn’t the most surprising thing in the world, but Joel Sherman reports the “top of the Yankees hierarchy” demanded the re-signing of Ichiro Suzuki this past offseason following “a strong Division Series and adoration from the fans.” Who knows what “top of the hierarchy” actually means, but it sure sounds like something above the baseball operations department.
Ichiro, 39, has managed to raise his early-season batting line to .185/.233/.296 following a multi-hit game and a homer against the Indians these last two days. The Yankees gave him a two-year, $13M contract over the winter and it just so happens he has a shot to record his 3,000th MLB hit next September. He’ll have to pick-up the pace to get there though, he’s currently 389 hits away from the milestone. It seemed like a move motivated more by off-field interests (marketing, merchandise, etc.) than on-field production from the start. · (97) ·