Short Term/Long Term

Well, it’s pretty obvious the Yankees have a problem with Chien-Ming Wang.  The guy can’t throw strikes very often and when he does, he gets pounded.  The question is, what do you do about it? 

Wang’s next scheduled turn would be Monday which is an off-day.  I would take advantage of that break in the schedule to move everyone else in the rotation up a day.  So, Sabathia pitches Tuesday (on normal rest) Joba Wednesday (ditto) until they need a 5th starter again on Saturday in Florida.  You send him down to Tampa until then and have him throw there and pitch a game against minor leaguers on Monday (his regular turn).  If he bombs again in 10 days, then he is out of the rotation for good.

Now some would pull him now, which I completely understand.  Some would say pitch him on Tuesday against the Nationals.  But seriously, does Wang beating the Nationals tell you anything?  They are pathetic and he should dominate them.  I suppose you could turn that argument on its head and say that Wang losing to the Nationals would tell you a ton, but I say just wait until the 20th and see what happens in Florida.

One other thing, since he was recalled Dave Robertson has pitched five innings and allowed two walks and two hits while striking out six.  I am not suggesting you hand him the 8th inning, but this is a guy who should be given a chance to pitch in some bigger moments.  He didn’t get it done against Cleveland, but give him a shot.  Seeing him warming up in the 1st and 2nd today shows you had badly the Yankees didn’t want to go to Hughes early and if that is the case, they need someone who is going to eat up innings on this staff. 

This Is Going To Be A LOOOONG Night

Wang- Strike one, try it, learn it love it.

Swisher- that’s two bad plays in two innings.

Apparently our long reliever is now Robertson who has been up in both Red Sox innings.     

This could be the type of game where I need to go for a long walk by the fifth inning.   

Draft Thoughts

Well the Yankees did what I asked and selected two hitters with their first two picks.  The first, Slade Heathcott, has been described as a "boom or bust" pick by Baseball America.  The second, J.R. Murphy, is an interesting pick because he is a catcher and that is the one position the Yankees have a lot of depth in. 

Heathcott is described as a "five-tool" player who has had some tough off the field issues with some family members behaving badly.  He grew up a Red Sox fan, which is interesting because he hails from Texarkana, Texas- a little bit outside of New England.  (Great town Texarkana, great song too.)   He plans to attend LSU if he doesn’t sign with the Yankees.  Some scouts project him as a reach for the first round, which means to me the Yankees probably have a deal with him to sign already.

The Murphy pick makes little sense until you hear that he is a likely candidate to get moved from catcher to third or the corner.  He is said to have a very good bat which would be a nice addition to the system.

I will recap more of the draft when it finishes, but the Day 2 reports I am reading is that the Yankees are taking guy who may be hard to sign.  That translates into English as-"they are taking guys who will cost a lot of money to sign"- exactly the approach they should be taking. 

More after the game.   

Interesting Take

Here is a study on the new stadium and home runs that says that 20 of the 105 home runs hit so far this year would not have been out of the old place.  They confirm what my eyes have been telling me, rightfield is closer and the wall is shorter.  Now, that accounts for 20 home runs, but 85 is still a ton. The highest number give up by the old place in the last four seasons was 73, still over 16% below the current total. 

So, I would guess there is something else going on.  I know the study says there is no definitive wind pattern, but I think there are two factors that may be influincing things.  First, the old place is still standing, right behind the new place.  Second, the new place has open concourses.  Perhpas the wind whips around the old place and gets pushed into the new one?  Perhaps the open concourses allow more of the wind to reach the field than at the old place?  I am not smart enough to know, but the frutrating thing is you can’t really be sure what you have until the old place is completely gone. 

That won’t happen until much later this year.  So, you can look forward to a lot of offense in the Bronx this summer.   

Weak Start

Let’s not overanalyze this one, the Yankees never had a chance thanks to their starting pitcher.  The one thing to spend a little time on is the pitcher was AJ Burnett, mythical slayer of the AL East.  Well since he dominated Tampa back in April, where has that guy been? 

All the cream pies in the universe don’t mean a thing unless you get some wins and right now Burnett is 4-3 with a 4.89 ERA.  This is the guy I was worried about getting.  The guy with the great stuff, but inability to apply it.  I could still be woefully wrong on this, and I certainly hope I am.  But right now, AJ isn’t worth much.

Tomorrow night we get Chien-Ming Wang thrown into Fenway.  Does anyone else feel bad about our chances? I guess the one good thing in all of this is that if CC does his job on Thursday the Yankees leave Boston tied for first.  That’s really all that matters right now.   

Draft Day

MLB is holding the 2009 Amateur Draft tonight, starting at 6pm.  Rounds 1-3 will be held tonight.  The Red Sox have 3 picks today, 28, 77 and 107 overall.

Peter mentioned his desire for the Yankees to add position players in this year’s draft.  The Red Sox have done a decent job of in recent years with drafting, but the one missing ingredient is the classic slugger.  Lars Anderson at AA Portland might be that player, but he has been slow out of the gate and hasn’t shown his power yet in 2009.

Sure Kevin Youkilis (a Duquette pick) has developed more power than any of use would have imagined, but his power seems to be in the mid-20 home run range.  The Red Sox did take Matt LaPorta 2 years ago, but couldn’t sign him.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go and if any of the players taken in the 2009 draft have the chance to be helpful in the next 24 months to the big league club.

MLB.com and the MLB Network will televise the draft offering us insight we’ve never previously had access to.  The fact remains, however, that because the MLB draft covers so many players from so many different places, very few people, including hardcore baseball fans, really knows much about the inner workings of the draft and the potential draftees involved.  We all know Stephen Strasburg will go first overall, but beyond that, we don’t know much and once you get past the first 5 picks or so, there is a good chance you won’t recognize the players being taken.

That said, local media outlets give you decent exposure to the Red Sox minor league teams (The Boston Globe has a weekly minor league report as an example).

As for the Red Sox team, tonight marks the start of another Yankees vs. Red Sox match-up.  The Red Sox are struggling with their defense and much has been made about Julio Lugo’s lack of range at shortstop.  Also, with David Ortiz still struggling overall (he is hitting .300/.333/.500 over his last 5 games), there is talk about what can be done to boost the offense.

My take is that the Red Sox will make due at shortstop until Jed Lowrie is back (3-4 weeks) and if Ortiz doesn’t come around, they will address that issue closer to the trade deadline.  They might package Brad Penny and a prospect sooner than that of course because with John Smoltz one start away from being ready, the Red Sox have a starting pitching logjam.  But we know a glut of pitching has a tendency of fixing itself (a trip to the DL by Matsuzaka, a hang-nail to Tim Wakefield and suddenly the Red Sox are calling up Charlie Zink as an emergency starter).

For a look at the Red Sox first round picks over the years, take a look at this feature by Baseball-Reference.com.

Don’t Take A Pitcher

Let’s face it, the MLB draft is pretty boring.  Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts there is almost no chance you will see the first player selected by your team show up in the bigs next season.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t important, the Yankees would be in a much different place if they had done a better job with drafting these past few years. 

Now, before you rip me about Joba and Hughes and those guys, consider the makeup of the current 25-man roster.  The Yankees drafted Mo, Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Joba, Hughes, Gardner and Robertson.  Basically, they had some great drafts in the early 90’s and some good ones in the middle of this decade.  Other than that, player development has not been a strength.

That could and should change.  The Yankees have more money than everyone and should use that to scout and sign players in the draft that other teams won’t gamble on.  They did this well a few years ago with Austin Jackson, a guy they grabbed in the 8th round and paid a lot of money to so that he would skip college and a basketball scholarship at Georgia Tech.  

Brian Cashman has said it is a priority to develop young players, I hope he proves it tomorrow by drafting a hitter instead of a pitcher in the first round.  Look at the Yankees’ rotation for the forseeable future.  Sabathia is here for six more seasons, Burnett for four more, Wang is under team control for two more, Joba at least four more.  That leaves one rotation spot open between now and 2012 and that is probably going to Hughes, who is under team control for four more years.

In the bullpen, Brian Bruney isn’t a free agent until 2012.  Robertson and Melancon will be under team control for at least five more years.  Ian Kennedy is the same and we haven’t talked about guys like Veras, Brackman, Coke or Ramirez yet.  I know you can never say you have enough pitching, but the Yankees have a lot of it and they have hardly any position players who are legitimate prospects.

Austin Jackson could be in center in 2010.  Montero and Romine seem on their way to the Bronx as catchers sometime around 2011-2012.  Other than that, who are the positional players to get excited about?  You really don’t have much.

Contrast that against a lineup with five players well into their 30’s. The Yankees have done a good job of getting younger this season with the subtraction of Abreu and Giambi and the additions of Swisher and Teixeira.  They will have another opportunity to inject youth after this season when Matsui and Damon become free agents.  And it isn’t just about changing the starters, consider the predicament the Yankees were in this year when A-Rod got hurt.  The Yankees need younger players with potential in the upper levels of the minors desperately.

So, I respectfully ask Brian Cashman and the assembled draft experts to select a batter tomorrow in the first round.  Go crazy and follow it up with another one in the second.  We need all the help we can get.   

Sometimes You Eat The Bear…

Quite a difference 24 hours made.  Saturday, Mariano was awful.  Sunday he was awesome.  Sadly, I think everytime he struggles it will bring the "he’s done" people to the forefront and we will have to listen to the arguments.  Who knows, they might be right at some point Mariano will truly be done.  I just hope we never have to see it.  My dream is Mariano walking off the mound after closing out the 2010 World Series and calling it quits right there. 

These next four games will be very interesting to watch.  The Yankees may be on pace to win 96 games, but they need to stand up to their division rivals.  3-9 against Tampa and Boston isn’t going to cut it, can the Yankees start to reverse that trend between now and Friday?  We will find out. 

In Case You Missed It

I found it interesting this week that Rodney Harrison was hired by NBC to become part of their "Football Night In America" galaxy of stars. (BTW- do we really need 12 guys to tell us what is going on during halftime?  It’s a separate issue, but how about cutting back instead of adding NBC?)

Andy and I have both commented on the difference in treatment that baseball and football get over PED use and this is a great example.  Harrison was suspended for HGH use by the NFL and now he is going to be a high-profile analyst for the sport he cheated in.  Can you imagine Sosa, McGwire, Bonds or Clemens getting that gig in baseball?  Has anyone heard from Palmeiro since he got suspended?  And, Harrison was only suspended in 2007, so his offense is "fresher".  

If you have read this site before you know that I think Bud Selig is a joke and the whole drug policy is terribly inadequate, but baseball takes way too many lumps for it all.  There is no excusing the cheating, but can’t the blame be spread more evenly? 

 

This Is Justice?

So let me get this straight.  A.J. Burnett throws at a Ranger to protect his teammate and gets suspended for six games.  Vincente Padilla starts the whole thing by hitting Mark Teixeira twice and he only gets a fine?

How is this fair?  Now, I agree that Burnett should be suspended.  Everyone knows you can’t throw up and in and get away with it, but Padilla clearly intended to drill Teixeira and he did it twice.  If you suspend one, you have to suspend the other in my mind.

On a separate note, don’t get too attached to the idea of watching baseball from the Bronx tonight.  The forecast is grim to say the least.