Vernon <3

People have different reasons for blogging, tweeting, discussing, or just watching baseball. The game’s numerous facets allows most people to find some aspect to enjoy in their own comprehension. From the players, to the numbers, to the narratives, to going to a game and enjoy a beer, or watching it with friends on your couch at home, it’s easy for even the most antagonistic of minds to find a commonality.

I know where I stand when it comes to baseball, and most regular readers are aware that I’m objective. I come from a scientific background, international law to be more specific, where it’s important to keep an analytic frame of mind despite your own prejudgments. Though my reasons for watching baseball have changed, I have been a Yankee fan my entire life. But the romantic side of baseball has largely disappeared, especially in my blogging, and I can’t even remember the last time I wrote something subjective. It’s hard for me to imagine having a favorite player nowadays. I love the numbers, not the players.

vernonI think my story is very similar to the majority of other bloggers and readers. If you’re reading a blog like this one, chances are that you enjoy the same type of statistical-minded analysis that I do. The evolution of sabermetrics has undoubtedly changed the game for front offices, but it’s also changed the game for fans. I don’t have any evidence, but I would hypothesize that the newest generation of baseball fans are the most analytically minded, and it’s created a culture that cares less about written narratives and more about actual numbers.

That doesn’t mean fans are any wiser, or appreciate the game any more than older generations, but I think most heroes today are based on statistics. While the majority of the Baseball Writers Association still wants to swear Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame, there is a counter-movement, even inside the BBWAA, that’s beginning to fight off these “clutch” type players due to his overall career performance. Morris postseason contributions might be Hall of Fame-caliber, but today’s crop of fans don’t believe in clutch players. They see a career ERA+ that’s barely above average.

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Report: Betances to the pen

The first inkling that something was amiss came when Donnie Collins of the Times-Tribune in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre mentioned Dellin Betances‘s absence from the starter’s list in his piece this morning about the Triple A RailRiders:

Dellin Betances is not listed among the starters for the RailRiders during the upcoming four-game series with Gwinnet. He is on turn for Friday, and he was listed on the board for side work. My guess is that they’re holding him out in case the Yankees need the extra arm for Monday’s doubleheader in Cleveland.

After further investigation, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, prompted by Collins’s post, found out that Betances wasn’t on the list of starters because he is being moved to the bullpen.

Sherman also declared the Killer B’s dead. The killer B’s being Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman. Banuelos is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Brackman hasn’t panned out and now Betances is the last man standing.

He is out of options so the Yankees have decided to do what most teams do with failed starters, move him to the bullpen.

So far this season, Betances is 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA in six starts with the RailRiders. This past weekend, in his last start, Betances threw five no-hit innings but he walked four batters. And that seems to be his downfall. He has 16 walks in 24 innings. He can’t get a good rhythm going and his mechanics get out of whack.

The Yankees believe moving Betances to the bullpen is the wisest decision. They hope he can use his high end pitches to his advantage in short outings.
Continue reading Report: Betances to the pen

This weekend’s matchups: Yankees at Royals

The Yankees will be in Kansas City this weekend taking on the second place Royals who at the moment are only a half game behind first place Detroit.

The Yankees are in a virtual tie for first place atop the AL East with Baltimore and Boston. While the Orioles and Red Sox both have 21 wins to the Yankees’ 20, both teams have 14 losses, the Yankees have 13. This season has certainly been interesting so far for the boys from the Bronx. Most people weren’t expecting much while their superstars Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez were out with injuries but I’d say hitting the 20 win mark on May 9th is a pretty big deal. As we all know, there is a lot of season left but so far the Yankees have been able to stay ahead while waiting for the aforementioned big guns to arrive.

Coming into this three-game series with the Royals, the Yankees are 6-4 in their last 10 games and they took two out of three in Colorado. The Royals are 5-5 in their last 10 and they lost two out of three to the Orioles in Baltimore.

This weekend marks the return of Mariano Rivera to the place where his 2012 season ended. And how’s this for a stat? From Yahoo: “Rivera has converted 35 of 37 save opportunities against the Royals (18-13), including 27 in a row dating to Aug. 18, 1998.”

Here are the pitching match ups for the series:

RHP Phil Hughes (1-2, 3.60) vs. RHP Wade Davis (2-2, 4.75)
8:10 p.m.

LHP Andy Pettitte (3-2, 4.06) vs.RHP James Shields (2-2, 2.52)
7:10 p.m.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (4-2, 2.30) vs.RHP Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.36)
2:10 p.m.

All three opposing pitchers are very familiar to the Yankees. Davis and Shields faced the Yankees many times while they were with the Tampa Bay Rays and Ervin Santana also faced the Yankees while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Continue reading This weekend’s matchups: Yankees at Royals

What Phelps Needs To Work On

Phelps vs COL

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Yesterday, in anticipation of Ivan Nova‘s likely return (temporary at least) to the rotation, I looked at what he needed to change and improve to stick in the rotation should he get his spot back.  I honestly just assumed that if he was healthy he would be given the spot back upon his return based on the “you shouldn’t lose your job for getting hurt” rule, but yesterday’s Wednesday’s results may have muddied the waters a bit. Nova struggled mightily with his command in his ExST outing, walking 4 batters in 5 IP, while David Phelps looked very good tossing 6 innings of 2-run ball against the Rockies, both runs coming on one mistake pitch. Phelps has performed admirably in his 2 spot starts, better than Nova was, and if there are questions about Nova’s command, that could be enough to keep the door open for Phelps.  If the 5th starter competition is unofficially back on, here’s what Phelps needs to do to lock it down.

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The Farm Report: 5/9/13

First, a few Minor League notes/links to check out. Mikey O’Brien has been promoted to Trenton, while Shaeffer Hall has been released and Josh Romanski was placed on the DL. Pitchers Taylor Garrison and Charlie Short are headed up to Tampa. Josh Norris posted some random scouts notes from Trenton, Tampa and Charleston, which I would recommend checking out. Meanwhile, all four teams were in action today and they all came up short, though Scranton held on for eleven innings before taking their defeat.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lost to Indianpolis (11 innings):
The RailRiders drew first blood, after three scoreless innings against Gerrit Cole. Ronnier Mustelier lined a single to center and stole second. He moved to third on a ground out and scored when David Adams singled to left. A solo homer by Brett Carroll knotted up the score in the fifth. Curtis Granderson started the sixth with a single, but Scranton couldn’t capitalize. They had a chance again in the bottom of the tenth. Dan Johnson and Adams both took walks to start. A walk by Bobby Wilson loaded the bases with one out, but Gil Velazquez struck out and Corban Joseph hit a ground ball to second to end the inning. Back-to-back doubles by Jerry Sands and Tony Sanchez in the top of the eleventh proved to be the difference in the end, as the Indians took the 2-1 win over the RailRiders.

No RailRider hitter had more than one hit. Granderson went 1-3, while Corban Joseph went 1-4 with a walk. Mustelier went 1-5 with a run scored and a steal. Adams went 1-3 with a RBI and a walk. Caleb Cotham made the start, going 4.2 innings and allowing one run on four hits, two walks and five Ks. Mark Montgomery went 1.1 and allowed one hit and one walk, striking out two. Cody Eppley and Jim Miller both struck out three over two innings. Eppley gave up a hit and a walk, while Miller allowed two hits. Kelvin Perez finished the game, allowing one run on a pair of hits and a walk in one inning.

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Quick recap: Yankees 3, Rockies 1

Since this is a quick recap, let’s have some fun with numbers:

  • CC Sabathia retired 11 batters in a row before the rain delay and had only thrown 51 pitches.
  • The rain delay lasted 1 hour and 59 minutes.
  • Mariano Rivera has converted 13 out of 13 saves.
  • The Yankees only scored six runs this series and still won two out of three games.
  • Robinson Cano got the 1500th hit of his career, clubbed his ninth home run of the season and collected RBI #20.
  • Vernon Wells picked up his 16th RBI of the season.
  • The Yankees’ batters had six hits and seven strikeouts.
  • They only had two hits of the extra bases variety – Cano’s dinger and Chris Nelson‘s double.
  • The Yankees’ pitchers also threw more strikeouts to Rockies batters (5) than gave up hits to them (4). David Robertson helped that total with three K’s of his own.
  • Sabathia was hitless in two at bats with two strikeouts.
  • The Yankees are now 20-13 (It’s 2013)

Next up for the Yankees, a series in Kansas City that begins with a Phil HughesWade Davis matchup. Continue reading Quick recap: Yankees 3, Rockies 1

Who’s Not: April Prospects

sladeYesterday I looked at the prospects who have started 2013 with a bang. Today let’s take a look at those who have started with more of a whimper. Unfortunately, there are a few names here that I would much rather see on the other list. Starting with…

Slade Heathcott (OF, Trenton):
Trenton should boast an impressive outfield this year, and a big part of that was because of the Yankees 2010 First Round pick. Instead, Heathcott had a pretty miserable April. He hit .191/.282/.294, with just one homer. He has stolen two bases in four attempts and taken just nine walks, striking out twenty times. His numbers are starting to move up, he hit .286/.316/.400 over his last ten games.

Dante Bichette, Jr. (3B, Charleston):
Bichette is fairing about as well as Heathcott, putting together a line of .194/.257/.290 during April. Despite this, he did have moments where he came through for the RiverDogs. He hit a pair of homers and had 19 RBIs. Unfortunately, he only took six walks during the whole month and struck out 28 times.

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Game 33: Another rubber game, another lefty

Today we have an “early” game. It starts at 3:10 ET and CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.31) starts opposite Jeff Francis (1-2, 7.27)

Here are the lineups in case you missed them earlier:

Young RF
Fowler CF
Tulowitzki SS
Gonzalez LF
Rosario C
Arenado 3B
Pacheco 1B
Rutledge 2B
Francis P

Gardner CF
Nix SS
Cano 2B
Wells LF
Francisco RF
Nelson 3B
Overbay 1B
Stewart C
Sabathia P

Jayson Nix batting second and Ben Francisco batting fifth! Wee!

Go Yankees. Try not to get killed today.
Continue reading Game 33: Another rubber game, another lefty