Yankees win 4th straight, set to get even better

It was also their 14th in win in 18 games since getting swept by Boston earlier this month, a moment that according to many was proof this team was in serious trouble. Since then, the Yankees have been on an absolute tear, running through everyone they’ve faced along the way. Over those 18 games they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 110-59. And they’ve certainly played some quality teams in that stretch as well, posting a combined 10-2 against Cleveland, Texas, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. And thanks to Boston’s troubles with the senior circuit, the Yankees have not only caught up to them in the standings, they currently hold a 2.5 game lead over their arch-rivals, after the Red Sox dropped another game to the Phillies tonight.

As intimidating as the Yankees may be at the moment, the thought that should be keeping the rest of the league up at night is the knowledge that they’ll be improving sooner rather than later, as several players get healthy and return, hopefully to productive roles on the team.… Click here to read the rest

The Farm Report 6/29/11: Huuuuughes!


Triple-A Scranton lost to Norfolk 2-1
Ryan Adams had the walk-off hit for the Tides, and went 3-for-4 with two doubles including the walk-off. Greg Golson and Jordan Parraz were the offensive standouts for the Yankees; Golson went 3-for-4 and Parraz went 2-for-4, and they both threw runners out at the plate. Parraz hit a home run, and Golson was picked off second. Lance Pendleton threw four innings of six-hit, no-run ball, with a walk and a strikeout; George Kontos threw two innings of one-hit, no-run ball with a walk and a strikeout; and Josh Schmidt threw 2.1 innings, giving up four hits, one run, and striking out two.

Double-A Trenton beat New Hampshire 3-2
Of course, the important story here is Phil Hughes’ rehab, and he was impressive. His line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER (an inherited runner), 2 BB, 8 K, with 88 pitches, 61 for strikes. His velocity was also reportedly very good. Mike Ashmore has all the details and video.… Click here to read the rest

Game 78: I Believe in A.J. Burnett

I’m not sure how much I believe that, but what the hell?

For the visitors:

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B (Kay just called him “Richie”)
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF (Over/Under: 1.5 falls in the OF tonight)
3. Ryan Braun, LF (Can’t knock him)
4. Prince Fielder, 1B (Same)
5. Corey Hart, RF (Insert sunglasses at night joke here)
6. Mat Gamel, DH (People who spell “Matt” or “Matthew” with only one “T” should be executed)
7. Casey McGehee (Can’t just spell it McGee like a normal McGee? Jeez.)
8. The Yuni Bomber, SS
9. Jonathan Lucroy, C (Who?)

Shaun Marcum: 2.95/3.16/3.55 E/F/x

And for the Bombers:

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Jorge Posada, DH
8. Russell Martin, C
9. Eduardo Nunez, SS

SP: A.J. Burnett: 4.15/4.56/3.93 E/F/x… Click here to read the rest

Hughes looks strong in latest rehab outing

After a solid rehab outing in class A Staten Island, Phil Hughes took the next step toward returning to big leagues by pitching for the Trenton Thunder (the Yankees’ AA affiliate) today against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays). While Hughes showed inconsistent velocity in his first outing, his overall performance was much stronger today.

Hughes threw 88 pitches across 6 1/3 strong innings, 61 for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits and one walk, while striking out 8 Fisher Cats. Most importantly, Hughes had good velocity throughout the game, sitting constantly between 92-94 (according to the dynamic duo of Mike Ashmore and Josh Norris, who provided great coverage of the game).

Phil’s strong performance today suggests that his return to the major league rotation is rapidly approaching. I am not sure about his use of his secondary offerings today, but the important sign is that Hughes was effective, had good velocity, and was able to sustain that velocity through 6+ innings.Click here to read the rest

A Look Back at Past “World Series Previews”

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

Even though the Yankees’ series against the Brewers is the only interleague matchup featuring two teams in first place, the showdown between the Phillies and Red Sox is the one being indentified as a “World Series Preview”. Such an oversight likely roles off the back of the Yankees, but you can’t blame the Brewers if they feel just a little bit slighted. Of course, the “preview” distinction shouldn’t be too much of a cause for concern, at least not if history is a barometer.

Since interleague was established in 1997, there have only been five seasons during which the eventual World Series opponents met in the regular season (see chart below). Interestingly, in four of those five years, the team that lost the regular season series not only went on to win the Fall Classic, but did so rather easily. Therefore, if the Yankees and Phillies continue their opening game dominance, the Brewers and Red Sox shouldn’t take their respective losses too hard. … Click here to read the rest

One more look at wOBA and AVG/OBP/SLG

Yesterday on RAB Joe Pawlikowski wrote a post asking if Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher were of equal offensive value because prior to Tuesday’s game they both had an OPS of .779. The post is excellent, and worth reading in its own right, but to summarize here the answer is that Swisher is the better offensive player because of his power. It is just a coincidence that Gardner’s and Swisher’s lines had aligned to that point in the season.

To dig into the numbers, Joe also pointed out that Nick and Brett had produced similar wOBA’s to that point in the season. Swisher had hit to a .345 wOBA entering Tuesday’s game, while Gardner had hit to a .344 wOBA. This too, however, was more of a coincidence as well. At a certain point Swisher’s power should allow him to produce a higher wOBA and OPS than Gardner, but both are valuable players who produce offense in different ways.

To help illustrate this point, Pawlikowski referenced an article on fangraphs that Matt Klaassen wrote.… Click here to read the rest

Yuniesky Betancourt is truly the worst.

Betancourt’s defensive deficiencies are truly awe-inspiring.  Of 21 qualifying shortstops since ‘08, Betancourt ranks last in Ultimate Zone Rating, at -41.8.  The second worst qualifier, Jason Bartlett, is at -16.9.  His Total Zone, Relative Zone, and Range Factor are also exponentially worse than anybody else’s.

As a hitter, he is equally atrocious.  148 players have gotten at least 1600 plate appearances over the last four seasons.  Of those 148, Betancourt ranks dead last in OBP, BB, BB%, wRAA, wOBA, RE24, and WAR.  He ranks second to last in OPS, wRC, wRC+, and WPA.  It really doesn’t matter if you understand what all those acronyms stand for.  The simple truth they reveal is that pretty much every time Betancourt takes the field, he’s the worst player on it, often by a long shot.  Of those 148 qualifying hitters, Betancourt is the only player with a negative WAR.  Even if you picked a AAA shortstop at random, there’s better than 50% chance he would out-produce Betancourt given the same number of opportunities.  … Click here to read the rest

Way to go, Wyers

Every so often, something speaks to me and I hear it better than I hear most things. In high school, it was the beautiful prose of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Truman Capote, the wit of Kurt Vonnegut. In college, it was the rhythm of Shakespeare and Chaucer as well as the cinematic grace of Douglas Sirk and Paul Verhoeven (I hope you’re reading, Joe). Yesterday, something spoke to me as a baseball fan.

Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus wrote a rebuttal to a post on Bill Simmons’ new site, Grantland. The last two paragraphs are what connected with me most:

Well, guys, I appreciate your concern, I really do. But do me a favor, would you? Just shut up. I know which end of the bottle the beer comes out of, I really do. I’ve watched ballgames outside, in actual sunlight—no, really. If knowing that a pitcher’s BABIP against rate in a small sample is largely unpredictive of his rate in a larger sample makes it harder for you to enjoy watching a game, I’m sorry.

Click here to read the rest

The Jesus Montero Catch-22

First of all, I have to state the basic premise that all of this flows from; Montero’s bat is ready for the major leagues. I don’t really think there’s a good argument that Montero isn’t ready. He hit .289/.353/.517 last season, and started this year with a .365 batting average. No, he didn’t have any walks and his OBP  was just .360, but that seems like a rather fine nit to pick. For one, a .360 OBP isn’t horrible in its own right, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with batting .365 in any case. The idea is to get hits, and if Montero was getting pitches he could hit such that he was batting .365, then taking pitches to try to draw walks for the sake of walking is just ridiculous. The odd thing is the implication that if Montero were hitting .320/.360/.XXX that would be fine, but because his batting average was .365 instead of 40-50 points lower he somehow had a problem that needed to be corrected.… Click here to read the rest