Today in over-emphasizing velocity

You know who’s grand nugget of wisdom today:

This what should be discussed at Cashman’s Starting Five Summit: There have been some concerns about Michael Pineda‘s velocity, which a scout still had at mostly 89-91 in his last time out. The official said he was encouraged because he said Pineda has hit 94 a few times on the gun.

When these stats, showing how much better hitters batted against Pineda’s sub-95 fastball were pointed out to the official, he said that the league average jumps at 94 for all starters. Lower than 94 gets hit must harder than plus 94, which seems obvious, but is relevant with Pineda.

If 94 is a line to draw between good and great, then Pineda likely needs to find those two or three miles per hour if he is going eventually graduate to the No. 2 spot.

You know that moment when you read something and it’s so instantly obvious that its as wrong as it could possibly be, and you wonder what in the heck the writer could possibly be thinking? Yeah, this would be one of those moments if it hadn’t been going on all spring.

Anyway, as to the substantive claim that Pineda needs to throw 94+ to become a quality number two starter, I would assume that the false nature of the claim is obvious on its face. According to Fangraphs, only six qualified pitchers in all of baseball averaged at least 94 MPH with their fastball last year which. Here’s a brief, largely random list of some pitchers who averaged less than that, with their average velocity in parentheses:

C.C. Sabathia (93.8)
Clayton Kershaw (93.4)
Felix Hernandez (93.3)
Jon Lester (92.8)
Yovani Gallardo (92.7)
Zack Greinke (92.5)
Tim Lincecum (92.3)
Cole Hamels (91.7)
Cliff Lee (91.5)
James Shields (91.0)
Dan Haren (90.0)

Okay, I take it back; we would clearly have to consider Pineda a total failure if he ended up being the equivalent of any of these pitchers. In a world where balls and strikes weren’t called based on the reading on the radar gun, however, his ability (or lack thereof) to execute a pitch with movement and command, or to throw a pitch that wasn’t a fastball on occasion, might make him a pretty useful player. Continue reading Today in over-emphasizing velocity

Minor notes 3/28

A few minor league stories of note to pass along this morning:

  • The Yankees unsurprisingly re-assigned Jorge Vazquez to minor league camp after last night’s game. That won’t sit well with him, but I can’t understand why anyone would expect anything different. Though Vazquez has one of the strangest cult followings I’ve ever seem, the fact remains that his actual on field performance isn’t even good enough to make me think he could rise to even the level of a 4-A player. A 29 year old corner infielder hitting .262/.314/.516 with 32 home runs, 166 strikeouts and 30 walks at the major league level would be a poor man’s Mark Reynolds, but that’s what Vazquez did in Triple-A last year. He might get his shot at some point this season, however, if Raul Ibanez doesn’t work out and the Yankees don’t acquire another DH to replace him.
  • Josh Norris reports that David Adams will start the season in Double-A Trenton. Adams, of course, is coming back from a nasty ankle injury that’s robbed him of a good chunk of the past two seasons and, ostensibly, torpedoed the Yankees’ attempt to acquire Cliff Lee back in 2010, but before that he was an intriguing prospect. A career .291/.375/.447 in the minors who was batting .309/.393/.507 in Double-A at the time of the injury, Adams was also a solid defensive second baseman as well. If Adams can regain that form, he’s a legitimate prospect who could be useful to a lot of teams, but it’s impossible to even speculate how his injury will affect his future at this point.
  • Also via Norris, Rafael DePaula was listed as working out with the Charleston Riverdogs yesterday. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start the season there, but it does mean that all the paperwork has been done, and DePaula is officially a Yankee. DePaula has spent quite a bit of time in visa purgatory, and has been working out at the team’s facility in the Dominican Republic, as he wasn’t allowed to play in any games for the Yankees. Hopefully the time off hasn’t set him back too much. Leaving that question aside, DePaula probably would have ranked somewhere between 10th and 15th in my top 30 prospect list.

Continue reading Minor notes 3/28

TYA Predictions: Cy Young Award

Matt Imbrogno: AL: CC Sabathia. CC won the award in 2007 with the Indians and has finished no worse than fifth in the Cy Young voting every year since then (5th in ’08; 4th in ’09 and ’11; 3rd in ’10). And just about each time, he’s had a legitimate case to win the thing. This year, I think he’ll finally repeat as the Cy Young Award winner. He’s got everything the voters want: he’s a workhorse, he’s incredibly good at not letting runs cross home plate, and he’ll win a lot of games. Maybe this (and my NL pick) Continue reading TYA Predictions: Cy Young Award

Joba speaks

Joba Chamberlain spoke to reporters before yesterday’s game, and cleared up some lingering questions about his injury (and created some new ones). He denied reports that he had lost a life-threatening amount of blood, and also denied that he had an open dislocation, though Brian Cashman checked with the doctors and confirmed that the bone did, in fact, break the skin, calling the injury an open dislocation of the subtalar joint. Ouch.

As for what this means going forward, Joba was adamant that he intends to pitch in 2012, though Cashman reiterated that this was a best case scenario. Cashman also declined to comment on the possibility of the Yankees voiding Joba’s non-guaranteed contract. “Whatever our rights are, they are our rights,” he said. “It’s not like a situation where somebody punched a wall. This is an accident. Punching a wall like Kevin Brown did, that wasn’t an accident. I choose not to pile on.’’ All in all, Joba’s salary is a relative pittance to the Yankees, so I doubt that they’ll try to void it now. If Joba doesn’t play at all in 2012 he won’t get an arbitration raise next winter, and then he’ll be eligible for free agency after 2013. Continue reading Joba speaks

Nightly Links: Kuroda, Chamberlain, Pineda

Individual ticket sales for the general public are available today. Though it might be enticing to get tickets for the next Red Sox v. Yankees series, most if not all the affordable tickets are gone and probably for sale on Stubhub by now. Still, you might be able to find a few $5 Terrace, Grandstand, or Bleacher tickets available. Unsurprisingly, Hiroki Kuroda will start the second game of the season. Where a starter pitches in the rotation means little to me, but Kuroda could be the most reliable #2 we’ve seen in a long time. Joba Chamberlain addressed the media Continue reading Nightly Links: Kuroda, Chamberlain, Pineda

Loose ends: Pettitte, rotation, injuries

A few notes to pass along via Chad Jennings:

  • Andy Pettitte threw batting practice today, tossing 35 pitches and drawing strongly positive reviews on his changeup from Nick Swisher. He indicated that he wasn’t as comfortable throwing out of the stretch yet, however.
  • Speaking of Swisher, he isn’t in the lineup again tonight, but will return to action in a minor league game either Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Alex Rodriguez is in the lineup, and his ribs are just fine after being hit with a pitch Sunday.
  • Lastly, Hiroki Kuroda is lineup up to pitch the second game of the season, and Joe Girardi confirmed that that is the team’s plans. No hints on who will take the ball after that.

Continue reading Loose ends: Pettitte, rotation, injuries

Well-Publicized Drops in Velocity Presented with Limited Commentary

The following pitchers have a fair bit more in common than may be discernible at face value. Each was, at one time or another, lauded as a top prospect (albeit to varying degrees). All five experienced enough success at the Major League level to stoke the flames of their respective fanbase’s fiery prospect love. And finally, the lot of them were decried for a loss of velocity from one season to the next, as if such an occurrence was an affront to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Without further ado: Tim Lincecum 2008 – 94.67 MPH, 10.51 K/9, 3.33 Continue reading Well-Publicized Drops in Velocity Presented with Limited Commentary

Predicting Joba’s prognosis

The Joba Chamberlain ankle injury saga has been an interesting case study for how the media tend to respond to serious injuries (I’m going to ignore the excessive media moralizing about how trampolines are deathtraps, and therefore going on one is incredibly irresponsible).  The immediate reaction was that Joba’s injury was quite possibly life-threatening (due to major blood loss), and at minimum, career-threatening (due to possible risk of infection and other complications), which naturally sent Yankee fans into hysteria.  The media coverage of the injury largely seemed to largely focus on these worst-case scenarios, and there was not much discussion Continue reading Predicting Joba’s prognosis