Musing On The Rotation A Week Away From Opening Day

Pineda ST 2015

Kill ‘em, Big Mike. Courtesy of the AP

Masahiro Tanaka: 3 G, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K
Michael Pineda: 4 G, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 17 K
Nathan Eovaldi: 4 G, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 K
CC Sabathia: 2 G, 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Adam Warren: 5 G, 16.2 IP, 17 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 11 K

That’s the official Spring Training statistical breakdown for the projected Yankee rotation so far, and if you’re the type to put any stock in ST stats for any reason then there’s a lot to like there.  The Yankee rotation was expected to be the roster area of greatest concern this spring, in terms of performance for some but more importantly in terms of health for most.  It was almost written as a foregone conclusion that the Yanks were going to suffer multiple injuries to their rotation in camp.  …

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Tuesday Afternoon Food For Thought: Taking A Flier On Jhoulys Chacin

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the Colorado Rockies released right-hander Jhoulys Chacin over the weekend.  I say somewhat surprising because the Rockies are always starved for starting pitching, Chacin is only 27 and has a modest track record of success with them when healthy, and he came at a reasonable price of $5.5 mil for this season, his final one of team control.

What makes the move understandable from the Rockies’ standpoint is the miserable and injury-plagued season that Chacin had in 2014.  He threw 63.1 innings over 11 starts with a 5.40 ERA and 4.82 FIP, and battled shoulder problems all year.  Unless I’m mistaken, and I very well could be, I don’t think last year was the first time he’s had shoulder injuries either.  For the Rockies to just completely cut bait on him, they must know something the rest of MLB doesn’t about the condition of that shoulder.

Which brings me to the obvious question of whether or not the Yankees should be interested in pursuing Chacin as some added depth for their corps of injury backups.  …

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Why Sabathia’s First Spring Start Tonight Matters

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today, which for us regular people means a day of drinking green beer and pretending it doesn’t suck and eating corned beef for dinner even though that’s not an actual Irish tradition.  For the Yankees, it means Opening Day is less than 3 weeks away and Spring Training is getting to the point where it’s less about shaking off the rust and getting a feel back and more about getting physically and mentally ready for the start of the regular season and the 6-month grind that follows.

With that in mind, it only seems fitting that CC Sabathia makes his first ST start tonight.  He’s the last of the projected rotation members to do so, and coming off another disappointing and injury-shortened season in 2014.  In a rotation filled with injury concerns, his is arguably the most concerning based simply on the fact that it’s related to 15 years of irreversible wear and tear on a major body joint.  …

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Nathan Eovaldi’s putaway problem

Nate Eovaldi has electric stuff, so why are his strikeout totals so underwhelming? (Photo: NY Daily News)

Nate Eovaldi has electric stuff, so why are his strikeout totals so underwhelming? (Photo: NY Daily News)

The scouting report on Nathan Eovaldi is pretty simple: a hard-throwing yet hittable right-hander, who has struggled to rack up strikeouts despite a blazing fastball that he throws consistently in the mid-to-high 90s.

The stats back up the scouts, too. Eovaldi’s heater last season averaged 95.7 mph, tied for third-highest among starting pitchers, yet his strikeout rate of 16.6 percent ranked 70th in that group of 88 qualified starters. He racked up just 142 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings last year, one more than Masahiro Tanaka managed in his injury-shorted season of 136 1/3 innings.

Eovaldi even admitted that his lack of strikeouts remains one of the biggest holes in his resume. “That’s one of the big issues I’ve had, not being able to finish the batters off,” Eovaldi told reporters this spring.

So why does Eovaldi struggle so much to get strike three and put away hitters, despite a fastball that nearly reaches three digits?…

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Early Spring Training Winners And Losers

Pirela ST 2015

This year’s Solarte in the making? Courtesy of Getty Images

I wanted to write this post Wednesday, wanted to write it again yesterday, didn’t get to it either day, and now I’m going to rush it to try to get it in before roster cuts start.

We’re over a week into the Spring Training game schedule now, and while that still isn’t enough time to make concrete determinations on who will end up where and what the Opening Day roster will be, it is enough time to start making some informed comments on whose stock is rising and falling in those key roster battles.  Real quickly, here are some of the early winners and losers from the first 11 St games.

Winner- Jose Pirela

He’s swinging the bat well (8-15, 3 XBH, 2 BB) and drawing a lot of positive chatter from coaches, players, scouts, and fans alike.  His defensive value as a guy who can play multiple positions has been on display and right now he looks like the best option for one of the 4 bench spots.…

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Evaluating A-Rod’s Early Spring Training Performance

There’s no denying that Alex Rodriguez was, is, and will continue to be the focal point of this Yankee Spring Training.  We all knew that was going to happen whether we wanted it to or not, and we all knew that we were going to pick a side on the “for A-Rod” and “against A-Rod” line.  The situation with the MSM crew and the newspaper back pages is what it is when it comes to those sides.  What really matters is whether or not the guy can still play and stay healthy enough to play.  That’s the logical, rational, intelligent stance to take as a fan or writer, and that’s the stance we try to take here at IIATMS in every A-Rod post we write.

With that in mind, and keeping in mind the previous point about A-Rod being the undeniable focal point, I’d like to spend some time analyzing his early spring performance.  It’s a very small sample size, but when you’re talking about a guy attempting a comeback in the context that A-Rod is I think there’s a little more value than usual in those small samples.  …

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Why Garrett Jones could become your favorite Yankee

That short right porch looks really enticing. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

That short right porch looks really enticing.(Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

One of the more under-the-radar moves by the Yankees this winter was the acquisition of Garrett Jones, who came over in the trade with the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi. Jones is likely to be used as a platoon bat (81 percent of his career plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching), but he still could end up being one of the more valuable Yankees even in his role as backup first baseman/outfielder.

It’s no secret that the Yankees have been starved for power over the last two seasons. Since 2013, they rank 11th in the AL in homers and second-to-last in slugging percentage; only the Royals have hit fewer extra-base hits.

Garrett Jones has a chance to really help the Yankees reverse that trend in 2015.

In fact, there might not be a more perfect fit for Yankee Stadium than the left-handed Jones, who’s potential as an above-average power bat is largely untapped after spending his entire career in pitcher-friendly parks.…

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Who’s on first? Not Sabathia

Sabathia vs TB 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

I fully understand that CC Sabathia gets paid to pitch. And him having a bounce-back season or even a somewhat decent full season is what is important for the Yankees in their quest for a playoff spot. I get all that. I also fully appreciate what Brad wrote yesterday about the big man’s weight. He was a great pitcher as a big guy and can be a good pitcher as a big guy. The one irritant for me during Sabathia’s tenure with the Yankees is that he pitches with only eight fielders because he is not one of them.

During Sabthia’s abbreviated season in 2014, the Yankees’ pitcher recorded only one putout. That would be an unfair statement if 2014 wasn’t the fifth time in his career that he recorded only one putout for a season. He has a string of three of those seasons in a row. Sabathia does not cover first base very well.

The only putout Sabathia recorded in 2014 was on a Robinson Cano dribbler to first.…

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McCann And Teix Talk About Dealing With The Shift (And I Rant About What Teix Said)

With more and more players getting into camp, there have been some more stories trickling out among the A-Rod nonsense; meaningful, baseball-related stories.  Like Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira being asked about their thoughts on facing the shift this season and the approaches they want to take to beat it.  Quotes via Chad Jennings.

McCann:

“I want to hit the ball where it’s pitched. It’s not necessarily that I’m going to try to go up there and hit the ball to left field. If it’s away from me, it needs to go to left field. If they come in on me, I need to be able to pull it, but pull correctly. If you pull correctly, you create back spin which is going to help you hit home runs. … If I hit two or three singles in a row to left field, they’re going to continue to play the shift because that’s where my power is. That’s just the way it is and whether that takes a couple of points off my batting average, if I take the approach I have day in and day out for 500 at-bats, at the end of the year things will be there.”

Pretty reasonable if you ask me.  …

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