Just because apps share a name does not mean they are equals. Last week I reviewed MLB At Bat for Android and came away thoroughly impressed. Yet that app has a few differences from its iPhone and iPad counterparts. Since I use an iPad and not an iPhone, I figure reviewing the iPad app is a bit more appropriate. It represents another win for MLB Advanced Media.
The most prominent feature of MLB At Bat for iPad is Gameday. When you open the app you go to that screen by default. When there are no games playing you’ll see a rundown of the previous day’s scores on top, with the first game recap in the middle of the screen.
Here you can read the game story from each team, right from their MLB.com beat writers. You can check the box, the play-by-play, and watch video highlights. Each player’s name is clickable, so you can pull up a quick player card with his numbers from that game, plus a few select splits.
One thing I’ve always liked about Gameday in iPad is how they use the real home stadium in the background. And by real, I mean the rendered version from the MLB The Show video game. You don’t get accurate representations of each individual batter, which would be a neat effect. But overall it’s a neat little feauture.
When live there is perhaps no better Gameday interface. You can view lineups, box scores, play-by-play (including scoring plays), and more right from the Gameday interface. It also gives you the pitch-by-pitch breakdown of the current at-bat.
My only complaint here is that there is no way to check the play-by-play in the archive. MLB has generally cut out pitch-by-pitch Gameday breakdowns in all formats, which is a shame.
As you might imagine, the stats interface is a bit more robust on a tablet than it is on a smartphone. Since there is more screen real estate they can afford to provide more than the basics. When you click on the stats tab you’ll go right to the 2013 MLB player batting leaders. It might not be the FanGrapsh leader board, but it’s also not the archaic stats pages we’ve seen in the past.
It contains your typical counting stats, plus triple slash stats and OPS. It would be super nice to have OPS+ in there, therefore turning it into something like Baseball Reference. But all considered, this isn’t half bad. Sorting is as easy as tapping the stat at the top of the screen.
Click on a player’s name and you’ll go not to a new screen, but to a pop-up. That’s nice, because it keeps you on the stats screen. The player card has a quick summary of biographical information, a small stats screen that contains just AB, HR, RBI, AVG, and OBP, plus fantasy news.
There are a few ways you can manipulate the results, beyond sorting by clicking. You can toggle between player stats and team stats by clicking at the top of the page. You can also filter by position and league. Looking for a different season, or perhaps spring training and postseason stats? You can click on the Timeframe tab and find those. Again, it’s not what we expect given the huge stats databases on the web. But it’s much better than in years past.
The news section is either redesigned for 2013, or else I never checked it in 2012. It’s actually a great interface, resembling tablet aggregation apps like Flipboard and Zite. It defaults to general MLB news, and you can flip through multiple pages of the day’s top stories. Click the MLB News tab at the top of the page and you can select team-specific feeds — with your favorite team on top, of course.
I have to say that the new interface has me using the News feature much more often than I have in the past (considering I never used it last year). Since I use Zite and Flipboard often, the interface is familiar and welcome. The stories are laid out in traditional columns, too, making the reading even easier.
Perhaps my favorite feature of the news section is clickable video. If you see the play button, you can click it and the video will play right inside the news section. You can go full screen with another touch — the video will automatically minimize when it’s done, leaving you back at the news screen. I’m genuinely excited for this news app this year.
Yes, you can hook up your MLB.tv account to At Bat for iPad. In fact, I can’t imagine having At Bat without my MLB.tv account. Tablets are simply wonderful for streaming video. MLBAM has clearly prioritized streaming video, and has improved the quality of its feeds in recent years. The feed on the At Bat app is especially awesome, because it doesn’t use Flash. Honestly, the continued use of Flash for desktop streaming makes me never want to use it. We can only hope they adopt an HTML5 web streaming standard for 2014.
When you play your video you’ll have to overlay options. The first is for box score and play-by-play, which you can show and hide by dragging from the right side of the screen. The second sits atop the screen, filling otherwise black space. It’s the day’s scoreboard. You can use this to switch among any number of games. It gives you the base-out situation and score, so you can flip to any game at its most intense.
What has become an essential accessory for At Bat on my iPad is Apple TV. Yes, you can access MLB.tv from it, but that’s not the best use. If you have an Apple TV, you’ll notice a little triangle in the controls panel. Click that and you can send the feed right to your TV. As you might expect, it looks superb on plasma TVs and other HDTVs. It always amazes me a little that we can stream high-quality video on our TVs. It’s truly a sight to behold.
The advantage of using the iPad over the Apple TV interface, of course, is navigation. It’s just easier to flip between games on your iPad, given the scoreboard controls. At just $99 for the Apple TV unit, I’m not going to complain much about price.
As with the Android version, MLB At Bat for iPad is free to download, but requires a $20 subscription to access its features. MLB.tv premium runs $120 for the year, and is a must-have for baseball fans.
Via George King: Right-hander Ty Hensley will miss 2-3 months after having surgery to repair a bone impingement in his right hip today. “He had a pulled abdominal and it turned out this was the cause,” said VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. Dr. Bryan Kelly, who performed Alex Rodriguez’s recent hip surgery, will do the procedure.
Hensley, 19, was the Yankees’ first round pick (30th overall) last summer. He agreed to a $1.6M bonus shortly after the draft, but a pre-signing physical revealed a shoulder “abnormality” and the bonus was adjusted down to $1.2M. The Oklahoma native allowed four earned runs with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings for the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees after signing. Hensley ranked eighth on my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List and it sounds like he might be healthy in time for the short season leagues in June. Who knows with hips though. · (37) ·
The Yankees opened their regular season on Monday afternoon, and the club’s four full season minor league affiliates will do the same tomorrow night. Given the recent increase in long-term contract extensions for star players, the Yankees will need their farm system to start producing more big league players in the very near future. They pump out relievers and complementary players pretty much every year, but the need now is legitimate everyday guys.
On the eve of the minor league season, here is a look at the various affiliates and the dispersal of the team’s top 30 prospects (in my opinion).
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (full roster)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Mark Montgomery (#10), RHP Brett Marshall (#13), IF David Adams (#18), C Austin Romine (#19), IF Corban Joseph (#20), RHP Dellin Betances (#23), OF Melky Mesa (#26)
Other Notables: OF Zoilo Almonte, RHP Preston Claiborne, OF Cody Johnson, OF Thomas Neal, LHP Vidal Nuno
Armed with a newly renovated stadium and a new team nickname/logo, the Triple-A squad will return to Scranton after spending all of last season on the road. Montgomery and Marshall feel like mortal locks to wear pinstripes at some point in the second half while Mesa should be the first outfielder recalled in case of injury. Adams, who was recently released and re-signed, lags behind Joseph as the extra infielder since he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.
Marshall, Betances, and Nuno (the scheduled Opening Day starter) will anchor a rotation that will welcome Adam Warren (#17) back into the fold as soon as Phil Hughes rejoins the big league rotation. The fifth starter figures to be old buddy Chien-Ming Wang, who will spend some time getting himself into pitching shape in Tampa after after signing late. Looking at the roster, I’m not quite sure who the fifth starter in the meantime, maybe Chris Bootcheck or Ryan Pope? Either way, the Triple-A club is basically an extension of the 25-man roster, where the extra depth players reside.
After Spring Training and Opening Day, I forgot how utterly boring regular season off-days can be. There was one day game today (Orioles at Rays, yuck) and that was it. The harsh reality of the regular season has returned, I suppose.
Here is your open thread for the night. The Islanders and Knicks are playing, plus Extra Innings is in the middle of their season-opening free preview, so find the channel(s) and you can watch any baseball game you want tonight. The Dodgers and Giants (Bumgarner vs. Ryu) will be on MLB Network later. Talk about any of that and more. Enjoy.
Jim Callis of Baseball America has rounded up this year’s recommended slot bonuses and draft pool totals now that the draft order is finally final. The Astros lead the way with a $11.7M pool — the reward for having baseball’s worst record — while the Nationals get just $2.7M after losing their first rounder for signing Rafael Soriano. Overall, the slot values and draft pools rose more than 8% this year.
The Yankees will have $7,957,400 in draft pool money — the eighth most in baseball — to sign their 12 picks in the top ten rounds. They received supplemental first round picks for losing Soriano and Nick Swisher to free agency, giving them three of the top 33 picks. As I wrote over the weekend, the Yankees really need to nail those top three picks and add some fast-moving impact talent to the farm system. Is that easy? Hell no, but it’s imperative given the state and direction of the big league roster. · (27) ·
Via George King: The Yankees never got to the point of discussing trade scenarios involving Joba Chamberlain with the Rangers. We heard last month that Texas had been scouting the right-hander.
Joba, 27, became much more important to the bullpen as soon as David Aardsma was cut loose. He’s the clear number three late-inning guy behind Mariano Rivera and David Robertson, sorta bridging the gap between those two and the Shawn Kelleys and Cody Eppleys of the world. One year of a reliever coming off two major injuries doesn’t have much trade value anyway. Makes more sense just to keep him. · (37) ·
Just seven months before hitting the open market as (by far) the best free agent available, Robinson Cano has fired agent Scott Boras. He is now represented by CAA Sports and Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation Sports. Cano will be Roc Nation’s first client and they will handle his marketing. Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Ken Rosenthal, and Dan Barbarisi all had a hand in breaking the news.
“At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors both on and off the field,” said Cano in a statement released on Roc Nation’s site. “I am confident that the pairing of Roc Nation Sports and CAA Sports will be essential in helping me accomplish my short- and long-term goals. I am making this important decision now so I can keep my focus on helping the Yankees succeed in 2013, while minimizing any distractions for me and my teammates.”
Darren Rovell notes that Jay-Z hopes to become a certified agent in baseball, football, and basketball. Roc Nation’s initial launch is with CAA Sports, but it will be its own stand-along company. Given his new affiliation with Jay-Z, it is very hard to see Cano leaving New York. I doubt he has his eyes on joining the Mets either.
Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA will handle the bulk of Cano’s contract talks. He represents Ryan Zimmerman, Carlos Quentin, Ryan Howard, and Drew Storen, among others. CAA itself has a long client list, including stars like Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, and Roy Halladay. Current Yankees Phil Hughes and Boone Logan are both CAA clients.
“Robinson Cano is an extraordinary all-around talent who has established himself as one of the game’s best and most consistent players,” said Van Wagenen in a statement. “Our mandate is to minimize his distractions while helping him achieve his goals on and off the field in both the short- and the long-term. His immediate concern is continuing to show respect for the New York Yankees organization, his teammates and fans.”
As for the Yankees, Cano cutting ties with Boras is pretty much the best case scenario as far as contract extension talks go. They’ve already made their franchise cornerstone a “significant offer,” though apparently there hadn’t been much progress in recent weeks. With a few notable exceptions, Boras has always taken his biggest clients out onto the open market and created a bidding war. Teams like the Tigers, Nationals, Angels, and especially the Dodgers figure to be in the mix for Cano after the season. Nearly every star CAA client has signed an extension in advance of free agency.
Does the agency switch means it will be easier for the Yankees to sign Cano long-term? Maybe, but I’m not sure easier is the best way to put it. I do think it improves their chances of signing him to a more affordable contract — not a ton because I doubt Jay-Z wants his first baseball contract to be a sweetheart deal — though Robbie is getting paid either way. He’ll clear nine figures easily and could double Chase Utley’s second base record of $85 million guaranteed. Perhaps he’ll sign a shorter (six years?) deal instead of seeking a massive eight- or ten-year agreement. That would be awesome.
The Yankees kicked off the season yesterday afternoon with a game that was basically the sum of all fears: an ineffective offense, a diminished CC Sabathia following elbow surgery, and sketchy bullpen work aside from Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. It wasn’t an ugly loss, per se, but it was a flat and uninteresting game. Add in weather that got increasingly cold, wet, and windy as the afternoon went on, and it’s no surprise the stands looked like the above photo by the ninth inning. Oh well, it’s only one game. Still 99.4% of the season left to play.
1. It didn’t hit me how vulnerable the Yankees are against left-handed pitching until I saw yesterday’s lineup. Eduardo Nunez hitting second? Jayson Nix and Ben Francisco in the lineup? That is weak. At least against righties they’ll have Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay. The against-lefties lineup will improve when Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira return, but who knows when that will happen. The Yankees aren’t likely to face many southpaws over the next two weeks because their upcoming opponents have righty-heavy rotations, but there are a lot of good left-handers in the AL East and they won’t be able to avoid them forever.
2. Not a day goes by that I don’t lament the inability to trade for Justin Upton. The Yankees desperately need that type of young impact bat, a true cornerstone type of player whose best years are (theoretically) ahead of him. Upton has that big right-handed power that plays in any park, a perfect lineup anchor for the team that could sign a lefty hitter off the street and get 20 homers out of him thanks to the short porch in right field. The Diamondbacks reportedly didn’t like the prospects the Yankees had to offer, but damn. Upton would have been perfect.
3. While on the subject of offense, I would much rather watch a team that can’t pitch than a team that can’t hit. Especially over the course of 162 games, no question asked. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to score runs, even blowing leads inning after inning. Also, you can get to the playoffs as an all-hit/no-pitch team. The Yankees have done that a bunch of times before, including in the not-too-distant past. No-hit/all-pitch though? It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure early tee-times in October.
4. Boone Logan absolutely terrifies me right now. Between the barking elbow in camp and the league-leading workload last year and the fact that Joe Girardi will use him often since he’s the only lefty … I’m nervous. He was fine in yesterday’s game, but man, I feel like it’s all going to blow up at some point. The Yankees have plenty of left-handed relief depth, specifically Vidal Nuno and Josh Spence in Triple-A with Cesar Cabral due to return at midseason, but I feel like Logan will have to blow up before the team dips into that depth. He feels like a grenade with the pin pulled.
The Yankees had won eleven consecutive Opening Days at home dating back to 1986 — an MLB record, believe it or not — but that streak is over following the Red Sox’s dismantling of the Bombers on Monday. They out-hit, out-pitched, and out-defensed New York.
Sabathia Struggles On Opening Day
Outside of 2011 against the Tigers (two earned runs in six innings), CC Sabathia has struggled quite a bit on Opening Day as a Yankee. On Monday he allowed four second-inning runs to the Red Sox in his five-inning start, throwing 102 pitches and walking four. He walked four or more just twice last summer (consecutive starts in mid-May).
Outside of that four-run second inning — two walks, two infield singles, two ground balls singles through the hole — the most notable thing about Sabathia’s start was that his velocity was down from last year. PitchFX says he averaged 89.9 mph and topped out at 91.7, compared to 92.5 and 94.1 on Opening Day last year, respectively. It’s worth noting that was in a climate-controlled dome. I suppose this could be the result of his offseason elbow surgery and weirder than usual Spring Training, but it could also be a workload and age thing. Unsurprisingly, Sabathia is not concerned and said he just needs to pitch better going forward. Given his overall velocity drop last summer, it’s worth monitoring. CC is at that age.
Anyway, the good news is that Sabathia’s offspeed stuff, particularly his changeup against Boston’s parade of right-handed hitters, was pretty sharp. He threw 24 of his 33 changeups for strikes and got eleven swings and misses with the pitch, which is pretty awesome. Given his historical struggles on Opening Day and in April in general, I’m willing to write this one off as a mulligan for Sabathia. Obviously he’ll need to hit his midseason stride sooner rather than later this year.
Frankie And The No-Shows
We all know the Yankees’ offense isn’t what it once was, but I don’t think I was prepared for Frankie Cervelli to be the team’s most productive hitter on Opening Day. His two-out, two-strike, bases loaded single (that landed on the foul line) in the fourth was responsible for the team’s only runs on the afternoon. He drew a walk later on as well.
The rest of the lineup didn’t do much of anything. Kevin Youkilis hit a double to start that two-run rally and Vernon Wells was robbed of a double by the third base ump, who incorrectly ruled his hard-hit ground ball foul. Replays showed it hopped over the bag before heading into foul territory. Brett Gardner beat out an infield single for the team’s first hit of the year, Ichiro Suzuki and Travis Hafner slapped some dying quails into right, and Robinson Cano grounded a ball through the infield for a single.
The Yankees had their best chance to get back into the game in the seventh, when Andrew Miller charitably walked the first two batters he faced on eleven total pitches to bring the tying run to the plate. The next three hitters — the 2-3-4 hitters — all struck out to end the threat. That was more of a Red Sox bullpen thing than a bad hitting thing; Miller and Andrew Bailey were throwing some serious heat. Either way, it never felt like New York was on the verge of putting something together offensively.
Cano, the team’s most indispensable player, went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, including one during that ill-fated seventh inning rally. One game doesn’t tell us much, but Robbie saw a ton of breaking balls on the outside corner from the Red Sox. That’s how teams figure to approach him this year given the lack of thump around him.
David Phelps, who is scheduled to start Saturday, was the first reliever out of the bullpen and the first batter he faced hit a leadoff triple. He escaped the jam — Jayson Nix helped him out with a great snag at third to get the runner at home on the contact play — and created another one the next inning before needing a hand from Boone Logan. Despite pitching an inning and a third, Phelps remains on schedule to start Saturday. No big deal.
Shawn Kelley, who made the roster over David Aardsma because of his ability to throw multiple innings, threw one perfect inning with a strikeout. Joba Chamberlain allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning and the staff as a whole walked eight batters against eight strikeouts. Considering the pitching is supposed to be the strength of the team, this was hardly one for the highlight reel.
On the bright side, the 49,514 fans in attendance set a new record for the largest Opening Day crowd in the relatively short history of the new Yankee Stadium. I guess that’s good news.
The Yankees are off on Tuesday — the whole “in case Opening Day gets rained out” day off thing — but these same two teams resume the series on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda and Clay Buchholz is your pitching matchup for game two of the season. If you want to attend, check out RAB Tickets.
The Red Sox beat the Yankees rather convincingly on Monday afternoon, the team’s second consecutive Opening Day loss. Boston was the far better team and there’s no way to dispute it. They outplayed New York in every facet of the game and completely overmatched their division rivals. Oh well, give it a go again on Wednesday.
Here is your open thread for the night. All three hockey locals are in action, but screw that, baseball’s back. ESPN is showing games all night and Extra Innings is free preview mode right now. Find the channels and watch whatever games you want. Talk about whatever, go nuts.