Youkilis’ Back Also Worth Keeping An Eye On

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

Andy Pettitte returned to the mound Friday night and pitched 7 strong innings, easing concerns about the back issues that caused his last start to be pushed back.  As one back problem seemingly goes away (for now), another took its place in the form of Kevin Youkilis.  Youkilis left Saturday’s game early after feeling some tightness in his back, and was a scratch from yesterday Sunday afternoon’s game for the first time this season.  Joe said he expects Youkilis to be back in the lineup tonight against Tampa (nope), and as expected, Youkilis has talked down the seriousness of the issue since the moment Saturday’s game ended.  In the same way that Pettitte’s back is still worth keeping on the radar, Youkilis and his back should also be closely monitored over the next few weeks.

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The Farm Report: 4/22/13 Wins all around!

It was a great day for the Yankees’ farm system. Scranton, Trenton and Tampa all showed some big offense on Monday night, picking up victories. Charleston had the day off. In other minor league news, Vidal Nuno picked up International League Pitcher of the Week honors – the first RailRider to take the award. He went 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA and striking out fourteen over two starts. Meanwhile, Kyle Roller took the Eastern League Player of the Week honors. He hit .455 (15-33) with a .757 slugging percentage, seven RBIs and six runs scored in seven games to earn the award.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre beat Syracuse 8-1:
Facing former Yankee farmhand Ross Ohlendorf, the RailRiders leapt out to a solid lead in the bottom of the third. Gil Velazquez lined a single to right and Corban Joseph drew a walk. A double by Thomas Neal brought in the first run of the day and Zoilo Almonte doubled in two more. Austin Romine grounded a single into left, plating Almonte for a 4-0 lead. With two outs in the top of the fifth, Micah Owings doubled for the Chiefs, scoring on a single by Jeff Kobernus for Syracuse’s first and only run. The RailRiders got the run back when Neal was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Dan Johnson. Melky Mesa lined a single to left in the bottom of the sixth, stealing second. Velazquez singled in Mesa and Neal doubled to left, plating Velazquez and then scoring himself on a throwing error by Chiefs’ third baseman, Carlos Rivero. Syracuse wasn’t able to put up much of a rally, as Scranton went on to take the 8-1 victory, evening their record to 8-8 so far this season.

Joseph went 0-4 with a run scored, a walk and three Ks. Neal went 2-3 with three runs scored, two doubles and two RBIs. Mesa went 2-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. Romine went 1-4 with a RBI and Almonte went 1-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run. Chris bootcheck threw seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, picking up five Ks. Jim Miller and Josh Spence both pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Miller gave up one hit and Spence struck out two.

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Rays 5, Yankees 1: That was awful

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That game was actually a lot worse than I imagined it would be.

Honestly, I knew the lineup would probably do nothing against Matt Moore. They can’t hit lefties as it is but a guy with 1.00 ERA coming into the game? Yeah…

And I was right but I was hoping CC Sabathia would be able keep the Yankees in this one. Unfortunately, after the first inning, the Yankees found themselves down 4-0.

For his part, Sabathia recovered and ended up pitching seven innings but the damage was done and the Yankees couldn’t do much against Moore who pitched eight strong innings.

Sabathia finished with eight strikeouts but gave up three home runs and two of them were to Ryan Roberts.

It was that kind of night.

Oh well. On to the next one as they say, and the next one is Phil Hughes facing off against David Price. Hmm, maybe we can skip that one too? (Kidding).
Continue reading Rays 5, Yankees 1: That was awful

Game 18: Oh no, it’s another lefty

Good evening and welcome to tonight’s game thread.

The Yankees are down in Tampa to face the Rays for the first time in 2013. It’s a three game series and both teams are coming off series wins. The Rays swept the A’s this weekend and the Yanks took two of three from the Blue Jays.

Here’s the Yankee lineup that will be facing Matt Moore:
Brett Gardner CF
Ben Francisco DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brennan Boesch RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix 3B

And here’s the Tampa lineup that will be facing CC Sabathia:
Desmond Jennings CF
Ryan Roberts 2B
Ben Zobrist RF
Evan Longoria 3B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Yunel Escobar SS
Shelley Duncan DH
Jose Lobaton C
Sam Fuld LF

Go Yankees!
Continue reading Game 18: Oh no, it’s another lefty

Update On Sabathia’s Velocity

After CC Sabathia‘s first start of the regular season, the lefty’s four-seam and sinker velocity were major narratives following a worrisome start. He’s followed that up with three Sabathia-esque starts, where he was either dominant, or he was able to give the team length and a chance to win. Altogether, he’s pitched 23.0 innings in his last three outings, giving up 4 earned runs, 4 walks, 19 strike outs, and 1 home run. Batters are hitting just .217/.250/.301 off of him, but that doesn’t mean he fixed his velocity.

As I pointed out earlier in the month, Sabathia’s initial struggles on opening day were due to control, and not his lack of velocity. Despite offseason elbow surgery, the southpaw showed tremendous movement on all of his pitches on opening day, a much more important factor following such a procedure. Since then, Sabathia’s movement has continued to impress, but his low velocity has remained.

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He’s thrown 426 pitches this year, each of them plotted in the graph above. There was some expectation that Sabathia’s velocity would increase as he was stretched out and developed strength in April, but so far he’s shown no signs of improvement. While his results have been successful, this four-seam speed is at an unprecedented low in his career. PITCHf/x has the ace’s four-seam velocity sitting at 93.9 mph in 2011, and falling to 92.4 mph in 2012. Over his last four games, the average velocity on both his fastballs are illustrated in the chart below.

Date Park FF Velo SI Velo
1-Apr NYY 89.9 89.4
7-Apr DET 90.3 90.5
12-Apr NYY 89.6 89.2
17-Apr NYY 89.4 89.3
AVG 89.9 89.9

 

Keep in mind that we’re only 28.0 innings into Sabathia’s 2013 season, but as the innings add up, this starts to look like something significant to watch. As we enter May and June, a pitcher’s velocity should reach its peak, and if Sabathia is still showing diminished speed, we’ll have to start questioning both his health and his weight loss.

For what it’s worth, three of the games he’s pitched have been in Yankee Stadium. Overall, the PITCHf/x cameras in the Bronx have been slightly less friendly than other stadiums, averaging .13 mph less on four-seam fastballs based on pitcher’s average four-seam velocity. This could be due to the cold weather, but there’s a chance that the initial readings from the cameras have been slightly off in calibration. Continue reading Update On Sabathia’s Velocity

Measuring the impact of Derek Jeter’s absence

The consistent story line surrounding the Yankees so far this season has been that the team needs to tread water until the injured superstars, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter, can return. Last week we found out that Jeter has suffered a set back and won’t be able to play until July. Without question, this harms the team. Much has been made of Jeter’s recent decline, specifically his sub-par 2010 and 2011 seasons, but even that weakened Jeter gave the Yankees above average offense at shortstop. Furthermore, Derek bounced back in 2012. The .347 wOBA Jeter posted in 2012 was far from his .365 career average, or the production he’s put up in his signature seasons, such as 2009, but it was a welcomed return to form, and evidence that maybe Derek had one more .340 plus wOBA season in him.

As frustrating as it is to watch the Yankees play Mariano Rivera‘s final season without Jeter in the lineup every day, Derek will come back. He’s still under contract and too competitive an athlete to go out this way. The real question is therefore how much damage his extended absence will wreak on the team. Given that Derek will miss half the season, we can measure the production this will cost the Yankees as a whole.

According to Fangraphs, Derek has averaged just under 2.6 fWAR over the past three seasons (Baseball Reference puts the figure at 2.3 bWAR). Taking that as a baseline, its safe to suggest that over the course of half a season, even an aging Derek Jeter will be responsible for between one and two victories for the Yankees. It may not sound like much, but that’s a hefty contribution.

Unfortunately, Jeter’s contribution isn’t zero sum. The Yankees have to put nine players on the field. Less Derek Jeter usually means more of Eduardo Nunez or Jayson Nix. Nunez is off to a terrible start. Fangraphs suggests he’s been a net negative on the team, with an fWAR of -0.2. Last season he managed only 0.5 fWAR in limited playing time, which means at best Nunez is a slightly above replacement level player. Jayson Nix isn’t any better. He clocks in at -0.2 fWAR on the season already, and managed 0.3 over all of 2012.

Taking it all together, assuming Nix and Nunez actually cost the Yankees games, Jeter’s absence over the first half of the season will probably take two games off the Yankees win total during that time. That may not sound like much, but the AL East will be tight all season long and there is no guarantee that both Wild Card teams will come from the AL East when Texas, Oakland and Anaheim all have post season plans in the AL West. Jeter’s absence will most certainly be felt. Continue reading Measuring the impact of Derek Jeter’s absence

Lunchtime links: Vernon Wells, the upcoming week and a spinning guy?

Good afternoon, Yankee fans.

Overall, it was a successful weekend for the Yankees who took two out of three from the Blue Jays up in Toronto. Yes, yesterday’s game was disappointing but it’s always nice to win a series in a division rival’s home ballpark.

Speaking of that home ballpark, a blog post began circulating yesterday ahead of yesterday’s game, that accused the Yankees of hiring security to kick home fans out of their own stadium if they heckle the players in the Yankees’ bullpen. It spread like wildfire and now has even been mentioned on Hardball Talk.

The author Justin Jackson filed a complaint with the Rogers Centre. I can’t wait to see the outcome.

Can I mention how much I like Vernon Wells? It’s not just because he had a great series against the Blue Jays, it’s because he’s hilarious. Following Saturday’s victory, beat reporters asked him about the reception he was receiving from Jays fans. Naturally, it wasn’t a warm greeting but Wells took in stride by saying, “They’re just calling me by my nickname, ‘Boo,’.”

Oh and then there was his fantastic play in yesterday’s loss followed by a tip of his cap to Blue Jays fans who had been riding him all weekend.

I mean, how can you not like that?

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Adjusting To Life Without Jeter

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The Yankees, their fans, and even Derek Jeter himself have known that his days as the team’s starting shortstop were numbered.  That discussion was surely had with Jeter behind closed doors during his last contract negotiation and is more than likely the reason the final year of his deal became an optional one.  That timeline got sped up some when Jeter suffered his season-ending ankle injury last October and now appears to be speeding up again after last week’s announcement that Jeter had re-injured his ankle, suffering a crack in the area of the original break that will put him on the shelf until at least the All-Star break.  That revelation fell into the “disappointing but not surprising” category for many of us who questioned Jeter’s progress after the initial setback and cortisone shot, and now we, like the Yankees, have to figure out the best way to move forward without The Captain’s familiar #2 anywhere on the lineup card.

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This week in Yankees baseball – Heading into Week 4

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The New York Yankees have won four straight series and that is what Joe Girardi likes. C.C. Sabathia picked up another win. Andy Pettitte won another start. Heck, even Ivan Nova won one of his two starts. Hiroki Kuroda pitched well enough to win his start but that game became a bullpen win after the bullpen blew Kuroda’s. And perhaps we are a greedy and spoiled bunch, but it certainly seems like the last two series should have been sweeps. The team went ahead, 4-2 on Sunday just to see the bullpen cough up four runs to give the Blue Jays the last game of the series. Back on Thursday, the Yankees were down a run heading into the ninth and Francisco Cervelli smacked a homer to tie the game. But David Phelps–who figured prominently in both losses this week–got roughed up in the twelfth inning. The week could have been better…should have been better. But it could have been worse too.

Mariano Rivera added three more saves to his career total this past week and added to his total saves record (613) and his games finished record (898). After six games, Rivera’s statistics are again in line with the rest of his stupendous career.

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