Four Charleston River Dogs are heading to the Low-A South Atlantic League All-Star Game: Slade Heathcott, J.R. Murphy, Kyle Roller, and Mikey O’Brien. Poor Nik Turley. Also check out NoMaas’ interview with Murphy. Good stuff as usual.
- Triple-A Scranton lost. Nothing too exciting on offense, just doubles by Jorge Vazquez and Brandon Laird. Andrew Brackman allowed four runs in 5.2 IP, though the good news is that hit 96. Kanekoa Texeira stunk in relief then exited with an injury, so Ryan Pope and George Kontos cleaned things up. Jesus Montero is still out with an eye infection and did not play.
- Double-A Trenton lost, walk-off style. Cody Johnson continued his hot streak with another homer, and Ray Kruml tripled. That’s pretty much it offensively. The Ghost of Kei Igawa gave up just one run in 6.2 innings, but Fernando Hernandez blew it when he gave up a two run homer to this guy.
- High-A Tampa won. Abe Almonte, Rob Lyerly, and Kevin Mahoney all had two hits. Walt Ibarra drove in two and doubled. Josh Romanski was fantastic, striking out seven and allowing just four baserunners (three hits and a walk) in six scoreless innings.
- Low-A Charleston lost. Slade Heathcott, Rob Segedin, and Ramon Flores all had one hit, but J.R. Murphy went hitless and Gary Sanchez did not play. Mikey O’Brien gave up one run in five ugly innings, then Tommy Kahnle relieved him and walked the farm. Yuck.
It’s been a while since the Yankees last played a game at home, or at least it feels that way. Nine game west coast trips are good for making you feel disconnected from the team. Anyway, the Red Sox are in town, which means rivalry! Media coverage! 2004 references! Entirely too much Kevin Youkilis face time! Hopefully this one doesn’t last four hours, that’s all I ask. Here’s the lineup…
Freddy Garcia, SP
The game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on My9 locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Shameless Plug: Need to rant after the game? Listen, or better yet, call into Take On Russ at myfoxny.com (201-330-3466) after the final out is recorded. Salzberg’s a friend of Ben’s family, so we’re just helping spread the word.
Part of baseball’s early-season draw is how quickly things shift around. When the Yanks and the Sox first met, the Sox hadn’t yet won a game on the season. By their second meeting in mid-May the Sox had powered back and were 17-20 for the opener. A sweep put them at .500 for the first time on the season. At the same time, the Rays sat atop the division. Since then Boston has continued playing excellent baseball, going 16-6. The Yankees haven’t been too shabby, either, going 13-9. Of course, three of those losses came at the hands of those very Red Sox in what was part of the team’s low point in the season. This time around the Yankees have a two-game advantage in the loss column and could use a few wins to help balance out their 1-5 record against the Sox this season.
What Have the Sox Done Lately?
Since completing the sweep against the Yanks the Sox have gone 13-6. Their last two series have been sweeps at home. They dropped the first series to the White Sox, and then played an exciting, high-scoring series against the A’s in which they won all three. Of course, their pitching staff did surrender 17 runs to the anemic A’s offense, so things might not be rolling along quite smoothly right now. They will, however, send out two of their three best against the Yanks, including Josh Beckett, who is seemingly unhittable when facing the Yanks.
Red Sox on Offense
The Yanks and Sox enter this series with identical team wOBAs; they’re tied atop the league at .344. The Sox have a somewhat different attack, though. They’ve done it more with singles, while the Yanks have walked and homered their way to the league lead in runs per game. It actually makes sense that the Yankees have scored more runs than the Sox despite having the same wOBA, and despite the Sox having played two more games. At a time when power is down across the league, run scoring is heavily coordinated with power numbers. The Red Sox do have plenty of power, with a .165 ISO. But the Yankees lead the league in that category by a large margin.
The Sox have three players with a .380 or higher wOBA, and they’re three guys you might immediately suspect: Adrian Gonzalez (.409), David Ortiz (.427), and Kevin Youkilis (.383). They’re also providing the bulk of the team’s power numbers, as they’re the only ones with ISOs over .200. Jarrod Saltalamacchia does come close at .192, but that’s been the only way he’s provided value; despite the high power numbers, which do skew wOBA higher, he’s at just .316 this year, or exactly league average. The Sox have also received an unexpected contribution from Jacoby Ellsbury, who has shaken off his injury riddled 2010 to produce a .369 wOBA this year. He has stepped in big time for some of the underachievers.
Carl Crawford still leads that pack of underachievers with his .299 wOBA, but it is certainly trending upward. In May he had a .349 wOBA, though he still wasn’t all the way back. He walked in just 2.6 percent of his plate appearances last month, but rode a .352 BABIP to a quality month. So far in June he’s 7 for 17 with two doubles, a homer, and a walk. Dustin Pedroia is angling to take Crawford’s place as the disappointment du jour, with a .321 wOBA on the season. That trended downward in May, as he produced a .309 wOBA. Power has been Pedroia’s bugaboo all year; he had just five extra base hits in May, and has just 12 on the year (.089 ISO).
While Jed Lowrie’s numbers are still good, especially for a shortstop, he dropped precipitously in May. After a .410 wOBA in April he produced a mere .303 mark last month, which included a power outage: just seven of his 24 hits went for extra bases, and none were home runs. He’s gotten off to a poor start in June, too, going 3 for 18 with a double and a walk (though it was intentional). Rounding out the list of disappointments, J.D. Drew has been pretty bad all season, producing a .295 wOBA. He started off OK in April, but hit just .188 with three extra base hits in May. One guy who could take playing time from him, Mike Cameron, has also performed poorly in 2011.
Red Sox on the Mound
Tuesday: LHP Jon Lester. It has been something of a rough start for Lester, who is currently sporting four-year highs in ERA and FIP. When you glance at his peripherals, though, it’s not that surprising. His strikeout rate is down and his home run rate is up, while he’s walking batters at roughly the same clip as last year. He hasn’t recorded an out in the seventh inning since May 3, and has gotten pretty roughed up in that span. In 29 innings during those five starts he has allowed 21 runs, striking out 29 to 16 walks and five homers. Opponents have a .406 OBP against him in those games as well. One of them came against the Yankees, when he gave up four runs, including two homers, though the Yanks pitching staff gave that one back. In his most recent outing against the White Sox he allowed seven runs in 5.2 innings. That’s not to say the Yankees will have an easy time with Lester. It’s just the’s slightly less intimidating than usual.
Wednesday: RHP Tim Wakefield. This was supposed to be Clay Buchholz’s start, but he’s taking more time so that his injured back can heal. In his place is a familiar face for the Yankees. In a way this might be a break. Wakefield has been knocked around the last two seasons, pitching to a 5.11 ERA in 183 innings. He has been a bit better thisyear, but that has come more from hit suppression than from his peripherals. Yet we know that Wakefield can get the Yankees at any time. He’s faced them for just two innings this year, though they were two perfect. In his last three starts he has thrown 19.2 innings and allowed seven runs, which isn’t all that bad. Of course, one of them was against the Cubs, and that skews the numbers just a little bit.
Thursday: RHP Josh Beckett. There was no way the Yankees were getting through a three-game set with the Red Sox without facing Beckett. He has been stellar in general this year, with a league-leading 2.01 ERA and 205 ERA+. He also has a shiny 2.91 FIP to go along with it, mainly because he’s gotten back to what made him successful earlier in his career: suppressing the home run. He’s not striking out as many, and he’s walking a decent number of hitters. But that HR rate is bound to spike at some point, and what better place for that to happen than Yankee Stadium? It seems that Beckett has gone to ludicrous speed when facing the Yanks the last two times, so we’ll see if he can again rise to the occasion. On the other hand, the Yankees have knocking him around plenty since he came to Boston, and it feels as though we’re due for another one.
Bullpen: The Sox bullpen hasn’t been that solid this year, producing a 4.26 ERA, which ranks in the bottom half of the league. Yet their 3.46 FIP ranks towards the top of the league. The back end of the pen has been great, with Dan Bard recovering after a rough stretch and they recently got Bobby Jenks back from injury. Jon Papelbon started the year by lighting the world on fire, but he has given up six runs in his last three outings, which makes him seem more vulnerable. I still don’t buy it. He’s looked mostly lights out, and I’m not as confident now as I was last year that the Yanks can walk off against him if necessary.
Recommended Red Sox Reading: Last time we recommended the excellent Red Sox Beacon blog, run by friends of RAB Patrick Sullivan and Marc Normandin. They have since moved, though, to Over The Monster. Make sure to check them out there.
Despite getting solid work from their starting pitchers all season long (solid, not great), the Yankees will continue to look for rotation help this summer and rightfully so. It would be foolish to think that one or more of A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Ivan Nova won’t blow up at some point. One name that has popped up as potential trade target is Brett Myers of the Astros, who had a resurgent season in 2010 (3.56 FIP in a career high 223.2 IP). Houston sports one of the worst records in baseball and they figure to listen on anyone making decent money, so let’s look at the right-hander starting with the negatives…
- Fastball velocity? It’s gone. Myers sits around 87 mph with the ol’ number one these days, continuing a scary downward trend from last season. His fastball has always been below average, but now it’s even worse.
- Myers is amazingly homer prone. His 1.81 HR/9 this year is up from 0.80 HR/9 last year, but his career mark is 1.29 HR/9. That’s awful. Given his respectable ground ball rate (41.4% this year, 47.2% career), that leads me to believe he’s prone to mistake pitches that hitters simply don’t miss.
- Although he hasn’t missed a start since the beginning of last season, Myers has had two shoulder strains in recent years (2007 and 2009) as well as surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in 2009. Same injury as Alex Rodriguez. That’s three injuries of various severity in five years, and he turns 31 this August.
- Myers is no rental. He’s scheduled to earn $7M this season ($1.17M per month) and then $11M next season with a $3M buyout of his $10M option for 2013. The option can vest based unknown performance criteria in 2012. That’s a lot of scratch.
- And finally, there’s the whole domestic abuse thing. Yes, it was five years ago. Yes, he’s still an asshole for it.
- The fastball is certainly in decline, but Myers’ has a really good curveball that’s as effective as ever. It’s still dropping more than 10 vertical inches on average, and batters are still swinging and missing at it (11.9% whiff rate this year, 13.9% last year).
- He’d probably come cheap. I can’t imagine it would take much to acquire him, even if Astros GM Ed Wade has an affinity for Myers dating back to their Phillies’ days.
- Myers has pitched in the playoffs a bunch of times, including two World Series runs with Philadelphia. Playoff experience has value, but I’m not sure how much.
There’s really not much to like here. Myers have been below replacement level this year thanks to the dreaded sub-2.00 K/BB ratio (it’s at 1.96), and really his biggest value comes from the name. He’s expensive, there are legitimate concerns about how his stuff would translate to a hitter friendly park in the AL East, and he’s expensive. Yes, it’s worth repeating even if the Astros pick up some of the money. I’ll take pretty much anyone if they can be acquired for next to nothing, but I can’t see how giving up anything of value for Myers in his present state makes sense.
The Yanks had just one pick in the draft yesterday, but it certainly caught people’s attention. Mike and I talk a bit about Dante Bichette Jr., but more about how this plays into the Yankees’ draft philosophy and why they’ve gone against the grain of traditional rankings in the past few years. We also look forward to the high-ceiling, signability players available on Day 2.
Podcast run time 21:54
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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.
Now we’re talking. Day one of the draft is all about bells and whistles, MLB’s attempt to increase the popularity of the draft by broadcasting it and what not. That’s fine and I completely understand why they’re doing it, but unfortunately baseball’s draft just isn’t a made-for-TV event. Five minutes between picks is about four and a half too long, and frankly I don’t think any of us wants to hear the MLB Network announcers declare every pick great (in one way or another).
With that behind us, we’re back to the roots of the draft. All the picks from here on out will be made via conference call, which you can listen too via MLB.com’s Draft Tracker. The picks will come rapid fire, one after another, which is the way it should be. Last year’s day two liveblog lasted almost eight hours, so I hope your schedule is empty today. Here is the draft order, the liveblog is after the jump and begins promptly at noon ET…
For those of you holding out hope that Andy Pettitte will have a change of heart and return the Yankees either later this year or next, well you can pretty much forget about it. Pettitte appeared on The Michael Kay Show yesterday, telling the host “I’m not dying to be playing baseball right now … I’m absolutely loving being home … I don’t think I will ever pitch again.” Andy coaches his son’s Pony League team and plays on his church softball team, but otherwise he’s just loving the retired life. “I’m just another dad out there.” · (53) ·
The Yankees used the 51st overall pick in the draft to select Dante Bichette Jr. last night, the fourth straight year (and sixth time in eight years) they’ve selected a high school player with their top choice. Much like the regular season, the baseball draft is a marathon and not a sprint, and there are still two days and 49 more rounds left in this thing. Rounds two through 30 will take place later today (beginning at noon ET), which I’ll again be liveblogging. Until then, let’s round up some links that recap day one and look ahead to day two…
- It’s worth noting that the Yankees announced Bichette as a third baseman both at the podium and in the press release. He figures to move to left field down the road, but they’re going to see if he can stick at the hot corner first. Might as well, no harm in trying. If you want to follow him on Twitter, Bichette’s handle is @Dante19Jr.
- Jason Churchill of ESPN broke down all of yesterday’s picks (first round, sandwich, Insider req’d), saying this about Bichette: “He has good makeup and is a future outfielder with a strong arm and some power potential. The hit tool is a question, however.” That’s a pretty big question when you’re talking about a corner outfielder.
- Keith Law posted a winners and losers type of post (Insider only), and the Yankees made neither category. I guess that’s good. The winners were basically all the teams with extra picks, the losers the teams that really cheaped out (Braves, Rangers, Dodgers).
- Within that same post, KLaw listed his best available players. Here’s the same from Baseball America (no subs. req’d). Of those players, it’s worth noting that Josh Bell may be unsignable and that Matt Purke’s shoulder is a huge, huge question mark. The Yankees have been linked to Dillon Howard though, and we’re well behind the point where his talent says he should have gone. I get the feeling that Bell will fall big time, into the double digit rounds. Just a hunch though.
- MLB Draft Insider did a pass/fail post, giving the Yankees a failing grade for the Bichette pick. “There are far too many good talents still out there for this to be acceptable from the Yankees.” Well then.
The Yankees will be picking 28th in each round from this point forward (save for the silly compensation third round, which is all of one pick), so their first choice is 88th overall today. They’ve gone overslot for day two players consistently during the Damon Oppenheimer era, which is where they’ve had most of their success. I can’t imagine they won’t do the same today.
Without a first round pick because of the Rafael Soriano signing, the Yankees did not pick until 51st overall on Monday night. They used that pick to take the son of a former big leaguer…
Dante Bichette Jr. | 3B/OF
Obviously, Bichette Jr. is the son of former All-Star Dante Bichette, who hit .299/.336/.499 with 274 homers in a career that spanned five teams and parts of 14 seasons. Junior attends Orangewood Christian High School in Orlando, and he first came into the public eye when he helped his team to the Little League World Series in 2005. He’s committed to Georgia.
A right-handed hitter, Bichette offers bat speed and huge raw power, though there’s a lot of moving parts in his swing and he often sells out for the long ball. He’ll have to cut down on the movement and shorten up the swing to avoid becoming an all-or-nothing hitter. They won’t be small tweaks. Although he played third base in high school, Bichette is destined for left field long-term because he lacks the quickness needed for the infield. His arm is strong, but the 6-foot-1, 215 pounder isn’t a great runner and only figures to slow down as he gets older. Here’s some video.
Following the pick, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said Bichette “possesses the desire and drive to be a special major leaguer” with the “potential to hit for big power in the middle of the order,” which is kinda what he has to say. The Bichettes are close friends of the Girardis, and in fact Joe’s son is named Dante after his former Rockies’ teammate. That has nothing to do with anything, but I figured it was worth a mention.
Unless he shows big time improvement in the field, Bichette is only going to offer value at the plate. That said, his power is very real, some of the best in the draft, and that’s a tool that’s getting harder and harder to find these days. There’s just not much to like about the rest of the package. Dante Jr. is a limited player, and frankly the skill set sounds a whole lot like what Shelley Duncan brought to the table when he was drafted. I have no idea what kind of money we’re looking at here, but MLB’s slot recommendation for the 51st overall pick is approximately $695,000. I can’t imagine Bichette’s bonus would deviate much from that, if at all.
Austin Romine was unsurprisingly placed on the disabled list today; he had missed a few days with a sore back and neck following a collision at the plate. Jason Place took his spot on the roster. Carlos Silva was also placed on the disabled list today, likely due to the stiff shoulder that forced him to miss yesterday’s starter. P.J. Pilittere took his place on the roster, and Triple-A Scranton might need the extra catcher because Jesus Montero is battling an eye infection. Fun stuff.
We’re going to recapping the minor league action bullet point-style over the next few days because of the draft, just FYI. Let’s get into tonight’s action…
- Triple-A Scranton lost. Jorge Vazquez hit his 19th homer and D.J. Mitchell uncharacteristically struck out ten in six innings. That’s pretty much it.
- Double-A Trenton is still playing in extra innings. All you need to know is that Manny Banuelos got crushed: 4 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. Oh, and Corban Joseph homered. So did Bradley Suttle. Twice.
- High-A Tampa won. Kelvin Castro and Zoilo Almonte both went deep. Sean Blackk threw six scoreless, a much needed solid start for him.
- Low-A Charleston lost. Slade Heathcott had a hit and walk, but both J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez went hitless. Jose Ramirez had a strong start, throwing six scoreless.