Archive for Alfredo Aceves

He looked nice in pinstripes, but he looks at home in the Cubbie blue & white, no? (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Aside from the clean-slate record, an awesome thing about the start of the new season is the batch of new players that comes in. Whether they be rookies coming up from the minors, off-season trades or free agent/pre-arbitration signings, it’s always interesting to see who’s becoming a Yankee this year.

Of course, with the arrival of new Yankees, others depart. Some of which we’re glad to see go, be that due to injury or ineffectiveness, and others we long to have back. I’d bet there’s a pretty strong correlation between who’s performing away from the Bronx and who would look better if they were back for another year in pinstripes. Considering the attention paid to the Yankee rotation and some recent bullpen drama, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the pitchers the Yanks let go and see how they were doing around the league.

Kerry Wood

Wood rode into the bullpen like a knight in shining Cubbie armor in the 2010 season, wowing everyone. It’s imagine everything aligning better for Wood during his short stay in pinstripes: none of his bequeathed runners scored, his stuff was great, he was saving rear ends left and right. Though Wood had an expensive option, there was no way the Yankees were paying closer money to a man who would almost certainly not repeat his unsustainably good 2010 performance. Wood raced back to the Cubs and signed for $1.5M. He’s racked up an impressive 2.15 ERA and 4.49 FIP, though the 95% LOB is likely to drop. Even so, the 2:1 K/BB ratio is extremely promising.

"How about some support?" (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

Dustin Moseley

The spot-starter/longman for the Yankees signed at the pitcher’s heaven of Petco Park and has found himself a home in the Padres’ rotation. He’s making a comfortable $900k and is, uh, pitching his brains out, to say the least. In his five starts, he’s pitched to a 1.99 ERA (3.90 FIP). The Adrian Gonzalez-less Padres offense, which is slightly feebler than a dead rabbit, has really gotten behind his strong performance, and helped him go…… 0-3. In his five starts, the Padres have scored him a total of two runs. Pretty sad. Although his numbers are likely to go up (Moseley isn’t likely to hold down his .243 BABIP or hold up his 81% strand rate), it’s pretty freaking impressive as is.

Chad Gaudin

Gaudin also making $900K in the NL, though his home is located across the country in Nationals Park. The man’s picked up right where he left off with the Yankees, throwing spectacularly mediocre stuff and getting knocked all around because of it. In his 8 innings, he’s given up 12 hits, six ER (one homer), and eight walks. The only positive thing about his line is the 10Ks, but it’s not helping anything else. I wonder if Riggleman will have the same fascination with him that Girardi did.

Sergio Mitre

All right, I know you’re really interested in hearing about: the man that Marc Carig of the Star Ledger calls The Experience. Although he technically started off the year as a Yankee, Mitre’s been shipped over to the Brewers in exchange for Chris Dickerson. In his tiny 9 IP sample, he’s managed to give up six hits, three ER and a homer, and walk more batters (3) than he’s struck out (2). Of course, this is a tiny sample, and Mitre could get his act together and become the Rolaids Relief Man Closer we all know he could be. Right? Right?

(AP/Dave Martin)

Alfredo Aceves

The man they call Ace fought injures all through 2010, and because of that (and who knows what else), Cashman decided not to tender him a contract. The Red Sox picked Aceves up for a microscopic $650k. He’s been pretty effective for them too, making six appearances and racking up a 2.25 ERA. Way less impressive is his 5.80 FIP, helped out by the two home runs he’s given up. It’s hard for me to want a guy in Boston to succeed, but Ace was pretty awesome for the Yankees when they needed him, and I don’t know if I’m quite ready to let him go just yet. Silly sentimental me.

Javier Vazquez

Two trips to the Bronx still couldn’t cure Javy’s problems: a dead fastball and a reputation that wasn’t going to leave once it stuck his first time around. Vazquez has over 2,600 IP on his arm – I don’t even want to know how many pitches he’s thrown – and that wear and tear is becoming evident. Vazquez signed with the Marlins for $7M and he’s basically the same old Javy: a junkball and some other stuff being whomped around by better hitters. He’s made four starts and walked more than he’s struck out, even if his h/9 is still under one. 20 IP is too small a sample to really paint a picture, but here’s some food for thought: his average fastball velocity was 89 MPH in 2010. His average fastball velocity in 2011 so far is 88.4.

* * *

The Yankees pitching staff is pretty band-aided together right now, but quite frankly I don’t have a problem with it. If Nova wants to go 6.1IP and feel good about, awesome. If Colon wants to show off his amazing two-seamer and a 96 MPH fastball, even better! Honestly, if the worst thing that happens to Freddy Garcia is that he gives up a home run to Jose Bautista, things are going pretty well. Yeah, Garcia is going to throw some crappy pitches. But luckily, there are lots of crappy hitters out there to compensate. Plus, it’s basically impossible not to have Bautista homer off you these days. That should not be the standard of judgment. Also, go Freddy. And someone give the guy a towel, will you? He’s looking kind of shiny out there on the mound.

Categories : Pitching
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Easy on the back, Ace. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

One the biggest surprises of the Yankees offseason was the non-tendering of The Mexican Gangster, Al Aceves. Ace eventually went on to sign a guaranteed Major League contract with the Red Sox, which of course drew the ire of some fans. It’s completely understandable, Aceves was fantastic in pinstripes (particularly in 2009) and a likable dude, so it sucks seeing him go to Boston. PeteAbe caught up with Brian Cashman yesterday, who spoke about the decision to cut Aceves and the team’s efforts to re-sign him…

“I offered him a minor league contract; that was it. I wasn’t going to do anything more than that,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said tonight.

[snip]

“Because of the back issue, we could not give him [a major league contract]. He was throwing off the mound for us and he always hit a wall,” Cashman said. “So we ultimately continued to fail throughout the entire process to get him off the DL and active. He had a lot of success for a period of time, but then ultimately we’d had to take steps back and we’d have to shut him down and re-do the treatment.

“We decided to non-tender him and offer him a non-guaranteed deal. But obviously when healthy you certainly know what he can do.”

Aceves originally injured his back in Fenway Park on May 8th, and he didn’t pitch in the big leagues again. He made it to Triple-A on a rehab assignment in early-August before suffering a setback, then again made it to Triple-A on another rehab assignment a few weeks later before suffering another setback, this time a season-ender. Aceves then needed surgery after breaking his collarbone while riding his bike during the offseason, an activity that may or may not have been a) part of his rehab, or b) completely forbidden by the team/doctors given his back. As far as we know, he never had surgery to repair the bulging disc in his back despite rumors that he would.

It’s entirely possible that the Yankees screwed up here and were wrong about the health of Aceves’ back, an error that would be compounded by his defection to their biggest rival. It’s also possible – actually very likely – that the Yanks and their medical staff know him better than anyone and decided to move on. If there’s one thing I know about back injuries, it’s that they don’t just go away, especially without surgery. If Aceves is healthy though, boy wouldn’t it be nice to have him in camp as a fifth starter candidate right now?

As I’ve said before, I like Ace and wish him the best of luck, just not when he can do something to hurt the Yankees.

Categories : News
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Feb
09

My favorite Al Aceves games

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No one was happy yesterday when news broke that Al Aceves signed with the Red Sox. He was such a good story, going from the Blue Jays system to the Mexican League, and then eventually, along with Manny Banuelos, to the Yankees. After blowing through the minors he came up to help the pitching starved 2008 Yankees, and lent an even bigger hand to the bullpen in 2009. Now not only is he gone, but he’s gone to them.

We’ll always have our memories of Aceves. Here are some of my favorites from his years in pinstripes.

September 9, 2008: His first start

(Kevork Djansezian/AP)

Early September, 2008, is not a time Yankees fans like to recall. Heading into play on the ninth the Yankees were 76-68, 10 games back of the Rays for first. But that wasn’t their only woe. They were actually in fourth place at the time, two games in the loss column back of Toronto. They had already lost Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain, and Andy Pettitte had started to tank. The Yankees needed pitching desperately. They turned to Acevecs, who, after spending most of the year in the minors, came up a week and a half earlier as a reliever.

Aceves earned his start on September 4, when he pitched five innings in relief of Darrell Rasner, who allowed five runs early to the Rays. He allowed just one run while striking out four, which was an admirable accomplishment against the eventual division champs. The Yankees mounted a late rally, scoring five in the ninth, but came up short. Still, it was clear that Ace was ready to take the ball five days later.

That day Aceves lasted seven innings and didn’t surrender a single run until the Yankees had already put four on the board against Ervin Santana. He needed just 89 pitches to get through those seven innings, mainly because he induced so many ground balls. Of the 26 Angels who put the ball in play, 14 hit it on the ground and only two hit the ball squarely on a line. An inning of relief from both Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte sealed the victory. Unfortunately, the Jays won both ends of the doubleheader, putting another half game between the two.

September 20, 2008: Penultimate game

Last day game at the old Stadium (Julie Jacobson/AP)

It took a 12-5 finish to salvage a third place finish in 2008, and Aceves helped them achieve that mark. While he got smacked around by Boston when the two teams met towards the end of the season, he did pitch a gem just before that. It didn’t catapult the Yankees into contention, but it certainly had some meaning.

On Friday, September 19, 2008, the Yankees started a series against the Baltimore Orioles. This was a largely meaningless series from a pennant race point of view. The Yankees were well behind the Red Sox and had only the slightest prayer for the Wild Card. The Orioles, as usual, were in last. But these three games would be the final three games at Yankee Stadium. As we did every year since I can remember, a buddy and I picked up tickets from one of his dad’s clients and got to sit first row behind the Yanks dugout. But that was Friday, when Carl Pavano started. If only we’d been at the game that Saturday.

Aceves started the game, and it started in inauspicious fashion. Brian Roberts pulled a double down the right field line. But then Adam Jones tried to bunt him to third and popped up right to Aceves. That eliminated the runner and made Nick Markakis’s subsequent single easier to stomach. Aceves didn’t record a 1-2-3 inning until the fourth, and that would be the only inning he retired the side in order. But he still managed to complete six innings without allowing a run. Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, and Mariano Rivera continued the shutout, and the Yanks came back in a pretty wild bottom of the ninth, which ended with a Robbie Cano bases loaded, walk-off single.

May 16 and 17, 2009: Walk-off weekend

This is another instance where I was at the game before Aceves had his moment. On May 15 it appeared that the Yanks were about to lose a game against the Twins. But a late rally set up Melky Cabrera with a walk-off opportunity. He delivered, giving the Yanks an unexpected victory. Little did I know, walking out of the Stadium to “New York, New York,” that it was just the beginning of quite the memorable weekend.

The next day the Yanks led 3-2 heading into the eighth inning, but Phil Coke kind of ruined that. Joe Mauer had taken him deep the day before. On the 16th it was Justin Morneau. That tied the game at three. Three batters later Coke had given the Twins the lead. The Yanks ended up tying the game in the bottom half, but then the game went into extra innings. Mariano Rivera pitched his two innings, but the Yankees needed someone for the 11th. That man was Aceves.

He took out Nick Punto, Denard Span, and Brendan Harris, which bought the Yanks enough time. In the bottom half A-Rod hit a walk-off, two-run homer off Craig Breslow, and that was that. Two days, two walk-offs.

The very next day the Yanks found themselves in a similar situation. Tied at two in the ninth, Mariano Rivera again took the ball. But he couldn’t possibly pitch two innings on two consecutive days. And so Joe Girardi handed the ball to Alfredo Aceves in the 10th. Again he set them down 1-2-3. Johnny Damon rewarded his vigilance with a walk-off homer in the bottom half.

Aceves might not have played the most prominent role in either win, but he did his job and did it well. For those who worship at the altar of the pitcher win, the weekend saw two for Aceves.

July 5, 2009: Garden variety four-inning save

(Bill Kostroun/AP)

If it weren’t for the offense, Aceves might not have mattered in this game. They came out and scored four in the first two innings, but by the bottom of the fourth they were down 8-4 thanks to five earned runs on Joba’s ledger. But they scored six in the next two innings. After Jon Albaladejo got the Yanks through the fifth, he handed the ball to Aceves. Al pitched four shutout, one-hit innings, including five strikeouts, to keep keep the Yanks ahead for good.

That was another crazy weekend. Not only had the Yankees won on a walk-off the previous day (that was the disastrous Halladay-Wang matchup), but they hung on in admirable fashion on the fifth. The game was important for Aceves, too. With Wang hurt the Yankees needed a starter on July 9 in Minnesota. They apparently didn’t want to pull Phil Hughes out of the bullpen, so they handed the ball to Aceves. It was the second time in his career he earned a start after an effective long relief appearance.

August 7, 2009: The maraton

The Yankees-Red Sox 15-inning marathon on August 7, 2009, provided many lasting memories. A.J. Burnett walked six, but they appeared to be somewhat strategic. He allowed none of them score. And if not for a dinky slap by Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off the game, he wouldn’t have allowed a hit. And, of course, there was J.D. Drew running down Eric Hinske’s apparent game-winning hit, and finally Alex Rodriguez‘s game-winning blast.

Overlooked is Aceves’s contribution. He pitched three innings, from the 10th through the 12th, allowing just two base runners and striking out three Red Sox. He kept giving the Yanks opportunities to end it, but the offense just didn’t come through. Still, his role in that game really can’t be understated.

There were certainly other moments where he shined — his two innings of relief in Game 5 of the 2009 World Series come to mind, because he kept the Yanks alive for their failed ninth-inning rally. But the games above are the ones I’ll remember Aceves for. Have any to add?

Categories : Players
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Via PeteAbe, the Red Sox have signed former Yankee Al Aceves to a guaranteed Major League contract. Buster Olney says he gets $650,000 with incentives, which strikes me as a lot since he’s still in his pre-arbitration years. Jon Heyman says the Mets also offered the right-hander a guaranteed deal, but Aceves wanted to pitch in Boston.

The longman missed basically all of last season with back issues and suffered various setbacks throughout the year. Then, this offseason he broke his clavicle riding his bike and required surgery to repair the damage. Reports in December said he was expected to miss at least some of Spring Training, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to start the season on time. Olney says he passed his physical though for what that’s worth.

Aceves will always be remembered for his heroic relief work in 2009, when he threw 84 innings with a 3.75 FIP. The back injuries last year are nothing new though as he also had some physical trouble in 2009. The Mexican Gangster was awesome, and I wish him the best against everyone but the Yankees.

Categories : Asides
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Update by Mike (9:31pm): Matthews backed off the report, saying he may have been misinformed. He’s unsure of Aceves’ status for 2011.

Original Post (8:46pm): Here’s an interesting tidbit from today’s Wallace Matthews chat: When asked why the Yanks have yet to bring back Alfredo Aceves, Matthews said the right-hander is out for all of 2011. Apparently, Aceves’ back injury is “much more serious than [originally] assumed,” and the pitcher will miss “much if not all of 2011.” This is the first we’ve heard of this rumor, and we haven’t yet corroborated the news. Considering, however, that disc injuries often require surgery, this isn’t a very big surprise. Maybe Aceves can come back in 2012, but if not, we’ll always have his 14-1 big league career.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Jan
21

Mailbag: Aceves & Blanton

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We’ve got two quick questions this week, one about the status of Al Aceves and another about the price to acquire Joe Blanton. Make sure you use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.

Will the Mexican Gangster ride again?

Tucker asks: What’s the deal with Alfredo Aceves? Is there competition for him? It seems like the Yanks could bang out a deal with him pretty quickly.

It’s been a very quiet winter for Ace, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. He broke his collarbone riding his bike and needed surgery in December, and the Yankees non-tendered him not long after that. The Rockies showed some interest in signing him, but that died off pretty quickly. That’s it, we haven’t heard a thing about any teams being interested in him since, other than the Yankees wanting to bring him back on a minor league contract.

The collarbone injury will keep Aceves out until well into March, so he’s going to be behind other pitchers in Spring Training and might not be ready in time to start the season. He’d make a ton of sense for the Yanks right now because they could easily stick him in the rotation, where he’d probably outproduce both Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova. The back is the real question mark though, he missed basically the entire 2010 season because of it and had multiple setbacks. I’d love to see the Yanks sign him to a minor league contract right now, but I fully understand why they’d want to wait until he’s healthy. Seems like every other team is thinking the same way.

Anonymous asks: At this point, Joe Blanton is the best guy out there who is available. It may be hard to swallow acquiring him after losing out to Cliff Lee, but let’s put that aside. What would it take to get him?

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

I suppose the best way to do this would be to look at some recent trades involving comparable pitchers. The first one that jumps to mind is Tom Gorzelanny, who fetched two not top ten prospects and a not top 30 guy. He’s quite a bit cheaper and is under team control for one year longer than Blanton though, so we have to mark down accordingly. Another match could be Edwin Jackson, who required a big league ready, middle-of-the-rotation pitching prospect and a rookie level pitching prospect that would be found towards the middle of the top 30 list. But again, Jackson’s contract was more favorable than Blanton’s, which has two years at $8.5M per left on it.

The trade that send Blanton to Philadelphia isn’t a good comp either, since his recent performance at the time was much better than it is right now, and his contract situation was considerably more favorable. None of these are great matches, but at least they give us an idea of what to expect. It sounds like at least two prospects will be required, and one of them will have to be in the 10-20 range prospect of a top 30 list. Perhaps that guy is Adam Warren or David Phelps, and then you’re still taking on Blanton’s entire contract. It’s a fair swap, but with the Phillies needing to move his contract, no team should offer a fair return. The Phils don’t have much leverage right now.

I wrote about Blanton last month, and although he’s probably the best of the available starters, his contract isn’t great and then you have to give up prospects on top of that. Yes, he’s durable as hell, but he’s barely qualified as league average in the last three years, and that’s while he was in the NL on the best offensive team in the division. Seriously, I would rather just sign Kevin Millwood to a one-year deal. A move for Blanton impacts the 2012 team and isn’t necessarily easy to back out of. If I’m going to start committing considerable future payroll to a starter, I want it to be someone better than Blanton.

Categories : Mailbag
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Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees are interested in bringing the recently non-tendered Al Aceves back on a minor league contract, though the Rockies are one team willing to give him a big league deal and a 40-man roster spot. Not only did Ace miss basically all of the 2010 season due to disc issues in his back, he recently had surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered during a bike accident. The rehab from that will have him behind in Spring Training.

The Mexican Gangster was awesome in 2009, but his back is such a question mark that giving him a 40-man roster spot is pretty risky. I hope something gets worked out, but I fully expect him to bolt for a team willing to give him a big league deal.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
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The Yankees have non-tendered Dustin Moseley and Alfredo Aceves, Mark Feinsand reported a minute ago. In light of the team’s decision to re-up with Sergio Mitre, Moseley’s departure was a foregone conclusion. The Yanks do not need to mediocre right-handers clogging up the roster in the name of depth, but the decision on Aceves is surprising. My guess is that the Yanks did not want to burn a 40-man spot on a guy who missed most of 2010 and will be out for around the first six-to-eight weeks of 2011. The club will, in all likelihood, try to resign him to a minor league deal without burning a 40-man spot on a question mark.

Categories : Asides, Transactions
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Some people have none of the luck. Take, for instance, Alfredo Aceves. While the Yanks said he might have been available during the World Series had the team made it that far, the versatile long-man missed most of 2010 with a back injury. The Yanks announced this afternoon that Aceves had surgery to fix a broken left clavicle yesterday. The righty injured his collar bone in a bike accident in Mexico. Aceves, says the team, will need three months for rehab, and thus, an early March return will put him a few weeks behind schedule.

Meanwhile, Brett Gardner is set to go under the knife next week in order to cure his right wrist tendinitis. After a hot first half in which he hit .309/.396/.415, Gardner posted just a .232/.364/.330 line during the season’s second half and attributed his slide to a very sore wrist. The Yanks expect their left-fielder to be ready for Spring Training.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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"Then Derek said 'I want a G6,' and I was like 'lol whatevs'." (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The first official day of the GM Meetings has come to a close, at least in theory. Like I said on Monday, the hot stove is a 24/7 business, so who knows what could happen overnight. Obviously, the big news from Tuesday involved Dan Uggla, who was dealt to the Braves for the low, low price of (All Star) Omar Infante and former Yankee prospect Mike Dunn. I know they’re just getting one year of Uggla before free agency, but damn. You mean someone else wouldn’t top that?

Anyway, let’s round up today’s miscellaneous items, with the source in parenthesis again…

  • “Things are going well right now,” said Hal Steinbrenner (Chad Jennings). He acknowledged talking to Derek Jeter‘s agent “a couple of times” since last week’s meeting in Tampa, but otherwise there’s not much going on.
  • Meanwhile, Jon Heyman hears that the Yankees will bid at least three years to keep Jeter. Three years? Fine. At least three years? I don’t like where that’s going.
  • The Yankees still have no idea if Mariano Rivera is looking for a one or two-year deal, but they’re expecting it to be the latter (Buster Olney).
  • Bill Hall is on the list of free agents the team is interested in, and they have a bit of a connection: Hall works out with Yanks’ hitting coach Kevin Long during the offseason (Ken Rosenthal). I’m not much of a Hall fan, mostly because the idea of multi-million dollar utility players with multi-year contracts strikes me as utter lunacy.
  • The Yankees did in fact contact the Diamondbacks about trading for Justin Upton, but it was nothing more than due diligence (Marc Carig).
  • “I’ve got a small player move that I’m working on that might get done at some point this week,” said Cashman (LoHud). “But it’s small.” Let the speculation begin. I hope it’s Randy Choate.
  • They won’t consider releasing Damaso Marte to free up a 40-man roster spot even though they expect him to miss the entire 2011 season. Cashman doesn’t believe the team has a roster crunch when it comes to protecting players from the Rule 5 Draft.
  • Cash on the pitching coach situation (Marc Carig): “This is a scenario where there isn’t an obvious, without a doubt, in-house candidate.”
  • In somewhat surprising news, Brian Cashman said that Al Aceves might have been healthy enough to pitch in the World Series if they’d gotten there (LoHud). The Mexican Gangster last pitched on May 8th and suffered a setback as recently as early-September. Cash said he’s “hopeful” going forward, presumably talking about Ace’s ability to stay healthy. That’s basically all you can do, back issues are tricky.

And finally, former Yankee GM Bob Watson announced that he will retire at the end of the 2011 season. Watson is currently MLB’s VP of Rules & On-Field Operations, meaning he disciplines players and what not, but he ran the Yankees’ ship from in 1996 and 1997, bridging the gap between Gene Michael and Cashman. He was a helluva player before that, hitting .295/.364/.447 with 184 homers in a career that spanned from 1966 to 1984. Watson played mostly for the Astros, but he also had stints with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Braves. Congrats on the retirement, Bob.

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