While the unexpected success of veterans like Wells and Hafner dominated the early headlines, lately it’s the kids getting the bulk of the spotlight as the Yankees continue to get helpful contributions from rookies. 5 in all have made their Major League debut already this season, something that the Yanks haven’t done since guys like Mo and Jeter debuted back in ’95. For a team that’s had its MiL system defined by a lack of upper-level impact talent, it’s notable not only for the number of players but also for the fact that the team continues to win ballgames and have those rookies be major contributors to those victories. Vidal Nuno throwing shutout starts, Preston Claiborne getting late-inning outs in big spots, David Adams raking from the middle of the order, it’s all great.
Whether you’re a prospect hugger or not, something like watching a bunch of homegrown rookies come up and play well is always exciting from a fan’s perspective. Those guys are easy to root for and I always find myself paying more attention to their at-bats and plays in the field to see how they look as Major Leaguers. For a number of reasons, I hadn’t watched a live Yankee game in a couple weeks up until last night’s ESPN broadcast. I got my first ever look at Adams and Austin Romine last night, two guys who I ID’d last year as rookies I expected to contribute this season, and as a fan and a pseudo-prospect hugger here’s my take on them.
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My apologies for the lack of posts this past week and a half, but I came down with some horrendous cold/fever/upper respiratory thing that has been going around up here. It was beyond miserable, but I appear to be on the mend finally – a day I was starting to think might never come. Anyway, it was an exciting day on the farm, as the Yankees’ affiliates split the day. Much like the big club, Scranton saw some extra baseball, though they came up short. Trenton put together a nice comeback win over Richmond, while Tampa won the rare low-scoring game.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lost to Columbus 6-5 (10 innings):
The RailRiders scored first, putting together a big third inning. Brennan Boesch drew a walk with two outs. Zoilo Almonte singled and Dan Johnson drew a walk, loading the bases. A single by Josh Bell plated Boesch and Thomas Neal lined a double to left, clearing the bases and giving Scranton a 4-0 lead. A solo homer by Chun-Hsiu Chen put Columbus on the board int he fourth, but Scranton got the run back in the top of the fifth. Almonte and Johnson hit back-to-back singles and a double by Melky Mesa plated Almonte for a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately, the lead would not hold. Matt Carson started the bottom of the seventh with a double and Juan Diaz drew a walk. Omir Santos lined a single to center, plating Carson. A double by Ezequiel Carrera scored Diaz and two runs scored on a Lonnie Chisenhall single, tying the game 5-5. The game stayed tied through nine, sending it into extras. Scranton couldn’t get much going in the top of the tenth, but Columbus wasted little time in the bottom of the inning. Matt LaPorta lined a single to center off Josh Spence. Chisenhall bunted for a single and Chen lined a single to left, plating Lawson and giving the Clippers the 6-5 walk-off win over the RailRiders.
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CC Sabathia clearly didn’t have it, but he made whatever he had last 6.1 IP. They call him an ace for a reason, and he always finds a way to keep the team in the game, even during his stinkers. He allowed 11 hits and 4 runs, and only earned 2 strike outs. It’s something to keep an eye on, especially while he’s still showing lower velocity, but despite some early shaky starts, CC still owns a 3.43 ERA this season.
On the other side of the mound, Freddy Garcia gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks. Good to see the ex-Yankee still throwing that nasty splitter, but he didn’t have to do it against his old team.
The (Lack of) Hitting
The Yankees offense would have been a real big complaint if it weren’t for all the home runs. Knowing they scored 6 runs, it really doesn’t seem like a problem, but the Yankees had just 4 hits through the first 8.0 innings of this game. Unfortunately for the Orioles, three of those four hits were solo home runs off the bats of Robinson Cano, David Adams, and Lyle Overbay.
The Blown Save
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So sorry, with what’s happening in Oklahoma, I got distracted and almost forgot about the game thread.
Here are the lineups:
The Yankees made what looked like a very minor move on Saturday, acquiring Reid Brignac from the Rockies for $75,000. Brignac is likely just a stop gap until Eduardo Nunez returns, but he does offer some tools that could keep him on the roster for a while.
For those that read daily, you probably know that I’m not a fan of Jayson Nix. No matter what he’s done in recent days, Nix currently has a 61 wRC+, which isn’t far off from his career 72 wRC+. Even if you fall in the camp that believes his bat is secondary to his glove, we still run into problems. The only infield position where Nix saves runs is second base, and Robinson Cano isn’t going anywhere. Though I hate using defensive metrics without a huge sample size, UZR/150 gives him a career -18.5 at short stop, and RZR a .767 (average is .824 for short stops), and his third base is rated just below average at -0.8, with a .698 RZR. (average is .685 for third base)
Much like Nix, Brignac isn’t a great defensive player either. His metrics at shortstop and second base are right around league average, and his third base has been below average. He also owns a career 60 wRC+, so again we’re thinking that we have a player with little bat and no value with the glove. However, Brignac is just 27 years old with just 769 major league plate appearances under his belt. In his 3,000+ minor league plate appearances, the infielder owns a .771 OPS and appeared on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list 4 times, the last being in 2010.
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Look who is on his way back:
Felt good to get my first AB’s since March. 1-2 with a double and a walk, I’ll take it. #Yankees in first place, I’ll take that too!
This is good news.
Mark Teixeira was originally hoping to be back by May 1, then June 1 but now it looks like his return date will be closer to that June 1 deadline.
The Yankees and the Orioles have only played three times this season so far with the Yanks taking two out of three in the Bronx last month. Included in that series was the complete game shutout by Kuroda on April 14.
Mariano Rivera is so consistently good that he at times gets over looked on blogs such as this one. A writer is probably more inclined to write a Mo post if he’s seeing a bad stretch of play than if he’s being his usual dominant self. I try to do at least one Mariano appreciation post a year, but this year is a little different. Mariano missed most of last year with an injury. This is his swan song season (and unlike other athletes you know he means it). For a time his unreal stretch of play was getting somewhat overlooked, but now that he gotten off to a perfect start in save opportunities to start the season the media hype surrounding his play has picked up. The saves are shiny and nice to have, but to admire them is to overlook all that Rivera is doing. Let’s take a closer look.