Quick Hit: Greg Bird Off To A Hot Start In The AZFL

The Arizona Fall League is a little over a week underway and so far it’s been mostly uneventful for the Yankee reps.  Tyler Austin and Dante Bichette Jr. are both off to slow starts with the bat and Aaron Judge has only appeared in 3 games.  None of the 3 pitchers are doing anything special in their first few appearances.

The one player who is making headlines is Greg Bird.  He’s gotten the most burn out of the 4 position players, playing in 8 of the 9 games so far, and he’s been a fixture hitting in prime middle-of-the-order spots and playing first base.  In 36 plate appearances, Bird has a .394/.444/.758 batting line with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 R scored, and 9 RBI.  His 25 total bases are almost double the next highest total on his team.

About the only thing Bird hasn’t done well is limit his strikeouts.  He’s K’d 10 times in his 36 plate appearances.  …

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Quick Hit: You Can’t Predict Baseball, Royals Edition

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The Royals have just gone 8-0 against three of the best teams in baseball, and they’ve done it under the brightest lights on the most important nights. This team is flat out fun to watch, and more fun to root for, precisely because they are, in fact, significant underdogs (the last eight games be damned). You’ve heard this so often that it’s nearly cliche: The playoffs are a crapshoot. This Royals team is the most clear example of that meme that we have seen in my lifetime.

Consider a few statistics:

Athletics Angels Orioles Royals
Team WAR 23.4 30.3 29.0 22.6
Team OFF Runs 10.4 68.7 23.3 -40.8
Team ISO .137 (13th) .140 (11th) 0.166 (2nd) .113 (30th!)
HR per game PS 1.0 1.3 0.9 1.0
R per game in PS 8.0 2.0 4.7 5.3
FIP (AL only) 3.67 (6th) 3.57 (3rd) 3.96 (11th) 3.69 (8th)
Run Differential 157.0 153.0 112.0 27.0

The Royals were the bottom quarter of the league offensively, and flat last in power, well behind the Angels, O’s and A’s.…

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Quick Hit: Giving Props to Larry Rothschild

The Yankees pitching staff this season felt as if it was cobbled together from rubbish and assorted cadavers, and held together by Scotch tape and some good ol’ fashioned Elmer’s glue. A total of thirty-three players threw a pitch for the team this year (and I say ‘players’ and not ‘pitchers’ because of Dean Anna), and thirteen pitchers started at least one game. The Yankees Opening Day rotation – CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda – combined to make only seventy-seven starts. Twenty-seven games were started by pitchers in their first taste of the Majors (Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell), and another twenty-seven went to folk that were on another team when the season kicked off (Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, and the immortal Esmil Rogers). And, finally, the team used twenty-six different players out of the bullpen. To call it a staff in flux may be the understatement of the year.…

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Rumor: Yanks Considering Omar Minaya For Front Office Position

This came out late-ish last night, and it may not be welcome news to some who are seeing it for the first time this morning.  Former Mets GM Omar Minaya’s name started floating around yesterday as one the Yankees were considering for a possible front office position.  Erik Boland reported that it was “strong consideration for a high-ranking position,” but Andy Martino later tempered that by tweeting that the role would be something in scouting or an advisory position and not a major one.  With Mark Newman leaving as Senior VP of Baseball Ops and Minaya currently holding that spot in San Diego, there is a potential lateral opening.

Just the name “Omar Minaya” is enough to make some Mets fans’ skin crawl, and his tenure as GM there was not a good one.  But he does have a very good track record of building strong farm systems wherever he’s been.  With the Yankees putting improving their farm system as a primary goal going forward, Minaya could be useful as someone to help guide the efforts.  …

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Quick Hit: Teix Gets Back On That Grind

I should hate everything about this story by Dan Barbarisi on Mark Teixeira’s early offseason workout plan, but I don’t:

“Now, a week since the Yankees’ season ended, Teixeira is back at work. Normally he would take close to a month off and shut his body down to recover from the season. But at age 34, he no longer has that luxury; coming off the worst season of his career, he has to make things right again.

‘I’m doing light workouts right now, and when I start hitting the weights heavy here in a couple weeks, I’ll be prepared,’ he said. ‘I’m not shutting it down for a month like I usually do.’”

I want to say this is stupid.  And somewhat surprising.  I didn’t know Teix usually took a month off at the end of the season every year.  If he’s been taking a month off and then getting hurt the way he has the last few years, I should shudder at the thought of him working out already.  …

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Quick Hit: AZFL Begins Today

The season never really ends in the world of prospects, and the next stage of the 2014 cycle kicks off today with the opening of the Arizona Fall League season.  From a Yankee perspective, things have changed some since they announced the initial batch of participants.  Here’s a quicker refresher on who’s going and why.

Position Players: Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Dante Bichette Jr., Kyle Higashioka

Bichette is in for the injured Eric Jagielo, who will miss the season due to his facial HBP and resulting surgery.  Bichette re-established his prospect value some this season with a .271/.352/.410 season at High-A Tampa, but he’s 4 years into his pro career now and just had his first good year since 2011.  There’s nothing he can do to really help or hurt his standing here.  Same goes for Judge, Austin, and Bird, although it would be great to see all of them continue their hot-hitting finishes to the regular season.  …

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Quick Hit: I’m As Cool As Derek Jeter Now

Didn’t take long for The Captain to get the retirement jitters, huh?  2 days in and he’s already launching his own blog.  And don’t let all the flowery language on the new homepage fool you:

“So I’m in the process of building a place where athletes have the tools they need to share what they really think and feel. We want to have a way to connect directly with our fans, with no filter.

 

I am working with other athletes, with editors and with producers to create a platform that gives us a chance to say what’s on our minds. It’s called The Players’ Tribune. Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing a strong core of athlete editors and contributors who will shape the site into an online community filled with first-person stories and behind-the-scenes content.”

That’s a blog.  A straight up blog.  Derek Jeter has retired from his 20-year awesome job to start doing what I do to get away from my crappy job.  …

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Quick Hit: Baseball America’s 2014 Top Prospects Lists Are Rolling Out

I’m a little late on this, but Baseball America is in the process of releasing its 2014 “Top 20 Prospects” rankings for each Minor League.  They posted the top 20 for the Gulf Coast League last week and the NY Penn League earlier this week.  Yankee farmhands nabbed 2 spots on the GCL list, shortstops Jorge Mateo and Angel Aguilar at #4 and #15 respectively, and catcher Luis Torrens came in at #4 on the Penn League list.

Mateo is a 19-year-old shortstop who hit .276/.354/.397 with 14 R scored and 11 stolen bases in 15 games for the GCL Yanks 1 team (65 PA).  Aguilar, also 19, hit .311/.373/.536 with 7 HR, 34 R, and 31 RBI in 39 games for the GCL 2 team (167 PA).  Torrens hit .270/.327/.405 in 202 PA for the Staten Island Yanks after an early appearance in Low-A Charleston and a shoulder injury.  He’s still only 18 years old and arguably the Yankees’ best low-level prospect.…

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Quick Hit: Shut It Down

Nothing wrong with that.  It’s the right move at this point.  There’s nothing left to play for and there’s no need to risk further injury to any of these guys.  I can understand Ells and Teix wanting to get back out there for pride’s sake or to be a part of Jeter’s final games or whatever, but I’d prefer if they joined Beltran and started working on healing and getting ready for 2015.  It’s all over for 2014.  Time to shut it down.

Shut It Down

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