Author Archives: Brien Jackson

A word on the Yankees’ draft strategy

Well guess what; he signed a contract yesterday. The Pittsburgh Pirates, of all teams, decided to take the risk of selecting Bell with the first pick in the 2nd round, and then ponied up a signing bonus commensurate with Bell’s talent and convinced him to forgo college. It’s a heck of a coup for Pittsburgh, especially after they drafted Gerritt Cole first overall. Their system is probably as good right now as it has been at anytime in my memory, a true reversal of fortune for the Pirates.

But the fact that Bell signed only deepens my confusion at the way the Yankees have chosen to draft recently. The Yankees could have easily afforded Bell’s price given that, well, they’re the New York Yankees. In my opinion, that’s the advantage they should really be pressing, and should gobble up as much talent that falls to them for financial reasons as possible. In the worst case scenario, they don’t get the player signed, they aren’t out any money, and they get a compensation pick in the next draft for their trouble.…

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Excuse me, who needs to “smoke the objective pipe?”

Let’s break this sad delusion down, shall we?

When it comes to A.J. Burnett, Brian Cashman encourages everyone to “smoke the objective pipe.”

In the eyes of many, Burnett (8-9, 4.60 ERA) hasn’t pitched well  enough to keep his spot in the rotation. But Cashman sees things a bit  differently. He thinks everything has been overblown.

“I encourage everybody to just break it down,” Cashman said. “Break  it down. Compare him to other people. Look at his start-by-start. Look  at his run support. If you smoke the objective pipe, I think the  coverage on him would be a little smoother, more accurate.”

Well, okay, I can do that. I don’t really feel like trying to put all of the relevant information into one single table right now, but here’s the 2011 game logs for Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova if you want to look through them. And the basic picture they paint is a pretty obvious one; Burnett might not be drastically worse than Nova or Hughes, but based on results, he’s clearly been the weakest of the three, so if you want to winnow your rotation to your five best starters right now, A.J.…

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Burnett again shows that Hughes is the better pitcher

Any other time this wouldn’t be much of a big deal at all, especially coming from a team’s 5th best starter. But, of course, the Yankees have six starters at the moment, and Burnett is supposedly in a battle with Phil Hughes for that job, a battle most people expect Burnett to “win.” And Monday night merely showed again why that would be a terrible decision by the Yankees.

I’ve already written about this many times before, so after one more start from both Hughes and Burnett, let’s just summarize the reasons Hughes should remain in the rotation, and A.J. should not, at least for now.

Hughes is the better pitcher: This is probably the big one, and I don’t think it’s really arguable at this point. Hughes hasn’t been dominant since returning from the disabled list, and he’s had some peripherals that are a reason for concern, but he’s been generally solid from a results standpoint, and he’s gotten better the more he pitches.…

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No really, winning the division is meaningless

And that’s the basic gist of the column: 2010 was bad because the Yankees didn’t try to win the division, even though they came really close to doing it anyway, and then swept the Twins out of the ALDS while the division champion lost to the Rangers, failing to win even a single game at The Trop. The Yankees then went on to lose the ALCS, of course, but they posted identical 1-2 marks in the series in both Texas and New York, so there’s no real evidence the supposed lack of competitive fire in September hurt them in any measurable way.

Though I suppose the real meat behind the theory lies in what Derek Jeter said about the matter:

“Ideally, you’d like as many games as possible here,” Jeter said. “You love to play at home, but if you are going to win you are going to have to play well on the road, too.

“I don’t want to be on a team with someone saying, ‘Well, we finished second, that’s all right,’ ” Jeter added.

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Bruce Bochy a wizard no more

This season? Not so much. This year, the most visible of Bochy’s decisions has been to continue to stick with Aubrey Huff and his .249/.303/.381 performance over top prospect Brandon Belt at first base. Despite Belt making the team out of Spring Training (when the plan was to have Huff play in the outfield, something he quickly showed he was unable to do), Belt has just 94 plate appearances in the majors this year, hitting .218/.322/.333. That’s not good, obviously, but it’s hard to expect much better from a rookie getting only sporadic playing time. By contrast, in 212 Triple-A plate appearances this year, he’s a .309/.448/.527 hitter and his career minor league line is a very robust .343/.457/.596. So the bat is definitely there, it’s just a matter of getting him regular playing time to get his feet under him at the next level.

But alas, Huff is a veteran, he was a part of a World Series winning team, he wore a thong for awhile, and everyone basically likes him on a personal level, so even though he turned 34 almost immediately after his career season last year, his manager is sticking with his veteran, at the expense of a more talented youngster.…

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Hughes makes rotation question a no-brainer

Hughes is certainly doing his best to remind everyone why he was being counted on to be the team’s number two starter at the beginning of this year, before a mystifying arm injury cost him most of the first half and made him a human launching pad when he was playing. Over 6 innings, Hughes allowed just 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6 Rays on just 96 pitches. He also did a good job of mixing his pitches, throwing 46 four-seam fastballs, 25 curveballs, 13 curveballs, and 12 (!) changeups. It was his best start of the season in my opinion, and came on the heels of what had previously been his best start of the season over a week ago in Chicago.

And that’s been the overall trend with Hughes since his return to the team. Despite Joe Girardi deciding to denigrate Hughes by starting the “one good start” meme in order to defend A.J, Hughes has actually been remarkably solid since coming off of the DL.…

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