Sale of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Finally Official

Via Donnie Collins, the sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to Mandalay Baseball Properties is finally official, after it was initially announced not long after the end of last season.  The Lackawanna County Stadium Authority signed the agreement today, which clears the way for the demolition and construction to begin at PNC Field.  After 26 years of public ownership, the Triple-A team in Scranton will be owned by Mandalay, a company that has gotten some criticism for their management from some Lackawanna County board members.  The good news is that this should help move things along with the stadium so that hopefully the Yankees Triple-A team will be able to play their home games at home in 2013.  Still, it will be interesting to see what impact the new ownership will have on the team – and whether more drama will accompany it.

Update: No sooner did I post this then they released some renderings of the redesigned PNC Field. Continue reading Sale of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Finally Official

Some good news for Pineda?

The news about Michael Pineda’s labrum injury prompted a lot of doom-and-gloom predictions that he may never be the same pitcher again.  In my post from this morning, I looked at a number of cases of pitchers who had labrum surgery, to compare their successes and outcomes.  One of the most notable successes was Curt Schilling, who had the surgery in 1995, and was back in 1996 seemingly no worse for wear.  Schilling seemed to be an outlier, and his case made me wonder if his injury was less severe than some of the other cases. It turns out that Continue reading Some good news for Pineda?

Waiting on Andy

Once upon a time, Andy Pettitte‘s return to the Yankees almost seemed like a problem. The Yankees already had one man too many for their starting rotation, and with Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes pitching well in the spring, it was hard to see how an even bigger bottleneck would be sorted out by adding Pettitte to the mix as well. Oh what a difference a month makes. These days, of course, Hughes and Garcia have been terrible in the regular season while Michael Pineda is officially out for the season without throwing a single pitch in a game that counted and, suddenly, Pettitte’s return feels like less of a heartwarming human interest story and more like a crucial piece of the Yankees’ 2012 season.

Not that help is imminent, mind you. Pettitte got his first start at Double-A last night, and he’s expected to make at least two more starts in the minors before coming up to the big leagues. The Yankees want to make sure he’s fully stretched out and strong enough to pitch a major league game, and reports are that they want him to throw 100 pitches in back to back games before coming to the Bronx. That could mean Pettitte pitches three more games in the minors before getting called up, pushing his return back to mid-May at the earliest.

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Continue reading Waiting on Andy

The Yankees Aren't Good At Trading For, Developing, or Signing Pitchers

After five years of developing Jesus Montero into a budding young star, they traded him for fellow budding young star Michael Pineda. Almost instantly, Pineda disappointed with some kind of shoulder injury, which eventually developed into a labrum tear, and will not only sideline him for the remainder of year, but is a severe existential threat to his career. Pitchers are time bombs waiting to explode. They commonly suffer catastrophic injuries. They see much more variance in their skills from season to season than do hitters. It would be foolish to judge a team by looking at the performance of Continue reading The Yankees Aren't Good At Trading For, Developing, or Signing Pitchers

A Survey of Shoulders

Michael Pineda‘s season-ending surgery is disappointing no matter how you slice it, but it’s made even worse because he’s not scheduled for Tommy John, which has come to be almost a right of passage for power pitchers at his age. Instead, Pineda will go under the knife to repair a torn anterior labrum. Shoulder surgeries are easily the worst case scenario for pitchers and, among all common sports injuries, shoulder surgeries have among the lowest rates of recovery, with, as of 2008, less than a third of patients returning to their previous levels of performance (compared to well over 50% for elbow injuries). The return rate is so notoriously poor, pitchers almost alway try to pitch through the injury before submitting to surgery. Rich Harden, as one extreme example, tried rehabbing and pitching with a torn anterior capsule for nearly four seasons before finally resigning himself to going under the knife. Randy Johnson chose to retire rather than undergo the dreaded operation.

In 2010, I tracked the progress of eight pitchers who were trying to return from shoulder injuries (you can see the entire series here). The results were not encouraging, especially if the expectation is for Pineda to contribute next season. Only Ted Lilly, who did not have a “tear,” but rather “fraying,” managed to return to anything like his previous form and the vast majority of the pitchers surveyed were back on the D.L. before the end of the season, if they returned at all. The worst case scenarios include the plight of Brandon Webb. Once a perennial Cy Young candidate, Webb injured himself in his first start in 2009 and has yet to return to a major-league mound, although he is currently rehabbing with the intent of auditioning for teams around midseason. Webb is one of many examples of pitchers who went through a prolonged rehab process only to discover that the damage had not been fully repaired, forcing them to start over with another operation.

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The accountability thing

Michael Pineda has a torn labrum in his shoulder. I don’t want to keep rubbing that in or anything, I’m just stating the facts. Pineda needs surgery on his shoulder, and he’s going to miss the entire 2012 season. There’s nothing that will change that at this point.

I say that because there’s a not-so-small group of fans who want to respond to this by “holding someone accountable,” and general manager Brian Cashman is the most popular target. Some of these people were against the trade to begin with, and are taking this sour turn as a chance to say “I told you so,” while some of them certainly didn’t like Cashman to begin with. Others are the type that think someone has to be punished anytime something goes wrong to instill a culture of accountability. Or something like that.

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Some Interesting Early Season Trends

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) The fun part about small sample sizes is the room for interpretation they leave when analyzing a player’s numbers and trying to identify what he’s doing right or wrong.  It’s pretty easy to look at a full season’s worth of stats and break down exactly what a guy did to end up with the numbers he had, but a much smaller sample can leave some ambiguity in there.  Here are some examples of early season trends for some Yankees and the varying levels of support that their stat profiles give Continue reading Some Interesting Early Season Trends

What do you do with a problem like Phil?

Phil Hughes is not a starting pitcher. He just isn’t, not right now. He doesn’t have a single quality secondary pitch in his arsenal right now, nor does he have the sort of fastball command you need to turn a lineup over consistently without breaking balls or off speed pitches to keep hitters off balance. That was on full display last night, when the Rangers’ lineup was all over him the second time they saw him. Hughes faced six batters twice, and the only one who made an out was Elvis Andrus, who tapped a curveball that should have been in the dirt to Alex Rodriguez to bring home a run. The other five batters accounted for two doubles, a single, and two hit batters before Joe Girardi decided he’d seen enough of Hughes for one day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to trash Hughes by any means, but the facts speak for themselves. Through four starts, Hughes has pitched a total of 16 innings, allowed 18 runs (four unearned), 24 hits, and five home runs. His strikeout to walk ratio is 17-5. His ERA currently stands at 7.88, and his FIP isn’t much more forgiving, coming in at an ugly 6.34. xFIP suggests he should get better but, at 4.66, that isn’t much consolation in absolute terms either.

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