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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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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Imagining a Didi Gregorius that crushes lefties

I'm smiling because I know I can hit lefties. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports/Kim Klement)

I’m smiling because I know I can hit lefties. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports/Kim Klement)



Didi Gregorius‘ biggest challenge as a baseball player this season won’t be trying to follow in the footsteps of a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. That’s a storyline for the mass media to hype and write about it, and Gregorius knows himself that he can’t replace the Yankee shortstop legend.

“What Jeter did, nobody else is going to do that,” he told reporters during the first week of spring training. “If they compare me to Jeter, there’s nothing I can do.”

The most daunting task he’s going to face come April will be whether he can hit left-handed pitching and show Joe Girardi that he is capable of being the Yankees everyday shortstop.

Gregorius’ career stats against southpaws are ugly. He is one of 105 left-handed batters with at least 150 plate appearances against lefties since his debut in 2012. Here’s how he ranks among this group:

GREGORIUS vs LHP, RANKS AMONG LHB SINCE 2012**

BA OBP Slug pct OPS Miss Pct K Pct
Stat 0.184 0.257 0.233 0.490 31.2% 25.0%
Rank 99th 95th 104th 103rd 87th 73rd

**Min.…

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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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The numbers behind Adam Warren’s transformation

How did he become a key part of the Yankee pitching staff in 2014?

How did he become a key part of the Yankee pitching staff in 2014?


To put it mildly, Adam Warren‘s first outing in a Yankee uniform did not go well. In June 2012, Warren was summoned from Triple-A to make an emergency start against the White Sox in the wake of injuries to both Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. The 2009 fourth-round pick couldn’t make it out of the third inning, allowing eight hits – including two home runs – and six runs in a 14-7 loss.

Nearly three years removed from that disastrous debut, Warren has established himself as one of the team’s most valuable middle relievers, and this spring has been given a chance to compete for a potential spot at the back of the rotation (and, at worst, will be the third-best arm in a deep bullpen).

Warren improved his performance dramatically across the board over the last two seasons, reducing his walks and homers allowed while increasing his strikeout rate to nearly one per inning.…

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On CC Sabathia’s Weight

This was a story over the weekend, but I wanted to touch on it briefly before it got completely washed away under the tidal wave of A-Rod coverage and early ST reports on other players.  CC Sabathia drew some attention when he showed up at camp heavier than he was the last few springs.  Some estimates had him at 305, and while it wasn’t nearly as blatant as the negative spin that everybody puts on their A-Rod tweets, I got the feeling that some people were trying to paint that as a negative and a reason for added concern with CC.

Here’s the thing.  His weight doesn’t matter anymore.  It doesn’t matter if he’s 305, 295, 275, or any other 5.  At this point, the difference in pounds isn’t going to make a difference as far as his knee health is concerned.  The damage is already done there, and if it does turn out that his knee is going to be problematic again then you can bet it’s going to be problematic no matter what he weighs.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: Big Mac

New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox

Courtesy of Ray Stubblebine/NY Post

Brian McCann‘s debut season in Yankeeland wasn’t very good.  That’s not a story that needs to be told and beaten into the ground anymore.  We know the hows, we know the whys, and we know it was disappointing.  What makes it an important story heading into this season is what it does or doesn’t mean about McCann’s future.  He’s not as old or as broken down as A-Rod, Teix, or Beltran, but as a soon-to-be-31-year-old catcher who’s been an everyday catcher for 9 seasons running he’s also not the same physically as your average 31-year-old MLB player.  Last season could have been the beginning of the end for McCann as a well above-average hitting catcher and it could have been first-year adjustment issues.  That’s the worry that Cash and Joe will have as Mac gets ready for Year 2.

If you’re a subscriber to the theory that McCann’s decrease in production was more approach/bad BIP luck/adjustment jitters-related, and that the player we saw in the final 2 months was more representative of the normal McCann, OK.  …

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Reviewing Nathan Eovaldi’s Changeup

Eovaldi vs LAA

Pitch shown- Probably not a changeup. Courtesy of Getty Images

The word that’s been attached to Nathan Eovaldi the most since he was acquired by the Yankees, at least as far as I’ve seen, is “potential”.  It’s not hard to understand why when you look at the basic package: solid frame (6’2″/215), very good fastball velocity, 25 years old with multiple years of MLB experience already.  With that makeup, there’s no reason Eovaldi can’t be a top-of-the-rotation starter in either league.  He has all the potential in the world, potential that he’s slowly started to show in the form of his improving FIP and K/BB numbers over each of his 4 MLB seasons.  He also has the potential to make the leap to upper-echelon starter this year if he can work out some of the kinks in his game and smooth over some of the rough edges.

The roughest of his edges might be Eovaldi’s glaring lack of a reliable third pitch.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: The Aged, Regressed, Switch-Hitting Middle-Of-The-Order Bats

Teix-Beltran 2014

Courtesy of the AP

As we continue to refocus our attention on the returning part of this remade Yankee roster, let’s shift said attention from the position players who are still in their physical primes to a couple who are not.  In a perfect world, a team getting 2 legitimate switch-hitting power threats who usually produce well from both sides of the plate back in its lineup would be a major boost.  In the Yankees’ world, the return of Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira to the lineup may not end up helping at all.

And make no mistake, these guys are switch-hitting studs when it comes to the back of the baseball cards.  Teix has a .914 career OPS hitting righty against southpaws and .865 from the left side of the plate.  Beltran is .862 hitting from the right side and .860 from the left.  In their primes, these were 2 of the best offensive players at their respective positions and 2 of the best all-around hitters in the game.…

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