Quick Hits: Granderson, Teixeira, Rivera, Lineup

grandyCurtis Granderson removed his brace today, and was supposed to begin his throwing program, and indeed he did. It went really well according to the center fielder, and the plan is to swing a bat sometime this weekend. It looks like he’s on track to making his early-May return.

Speaking of early May returns, Mark Teixeira was somewhat glad that last night’s game was canceled, since it’s one less game he’ll miss. Last week, the first baseman said that his last doctor’s visit went well, and he’s now expecting to get back in early-May. Last night’s rain out will probably be made up on May 13th, so it’s good to hear that he’s planning to be back with the team at that point, considering the initial timetable had him returning in late-May to June.

Mariano Rivera is taking his farewell tour backstage, and meeting with the staff and fans from teams all around baseball. Today, he met with the people in Cleveland, and Chad Jennings has a video.

Here’s tonight’s lineup.

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Francisco Cervelli C

There are a few changes from last night. Brennan Boesch loses out to Ichiro in right field, and Cervelli gets in and leaves Chris Stewart on the bench.

On the mound, Phil Hughes will pitch, assuming his stomach is alright. I have a post on him going up at 5:00, and it’ll be interesting to see what his fastball looks like after somethings PICTHf/x found in Saturday’s start. Zach McAllister gets the ball for the Indians.

This is all assuming that there is actually a game tonight. Vernon Wells isn’t optimistic about the rain, in fact most of the weather reports have been rather disappointing, but weather.com now thinks the rain will end by game time, and only begin again at 10 PM. This is a game they’ll try their hardest to fit in, as it’ll be a huge pain to add two additional trips to Cleveland throughout the year. Hopefully the team can take another early lead, as a rain shortened game isn’t out of the question.
Continue reading Quick Hits: Granderson, Teixeira, Rivera, Lineup

What Nova Can Work On

As you probably know by now–thanks to last night’s canceled game thread–the Yankees will be skipping Ivan Nova‘s turn in the rotation, opting to go with Phil Hughes tomorrow; Nova will work out of the bullpen in between starts.

Nova struggled in his first start. Though he struck out five batters, he didn’t finish five innings, tossing just 4. in Detroit on the fifth. He also gave up four runs (all earned) and allowed seven baserunners (five hits, two walks). Something else of note, though, happened in that game and Mike explained it the other day: Nova was throwing a sinker at the Tigers’ batters. If we head over to BrooksBaseball and check out Nova’s player card, we can see that he threw the sinker 15% of the time, his third most used pitch behind his fastball (46%) and his curveball (25%). It would seem that goal number one would be for Nova to use that sinker when he’s brought in for a relief outing. As it will be a relief outing, Nova (likely) won’t need to worry about going through the order twice. So, he can use his sinker without having to adjust or think about it too much. Working in a new pitch is all about feel and if Nova’s in a game in relief, chances are it’s a game that won’t be too pressure packed–long relief usually means a blowout one way or the other. A low-leverage situation could be just what he needs to start perfecting a pitch that could be effective going forward. Last season, Nova’s groundball rate dropped over 10% (45.2% in 2012 down from 52.7 in 2011) and despite a big uptick in strikeouts, Nova got hit all around the park last year. Adding a sinker will force Nova to work down in the zone and hopefully allow him to regain some grounders, which are always helpful. He’s got a fastball to beat batters upstairs and get swings and misses. A low, grounder inducing sinker would be a perfect complement.
Continue reading What Nova Can Work On

Yanks Making A Lot Of 2-Out Hay To Fuel Their Offensive Breakout

Brett Gardner

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

If you think back to the painful times of last September and October, you’ll remember that one of the Yankees’ biggest problems offensively was their inability to hit with RISP or string together multiple hits to keep rallies going.  That’s what led to so many games being closer than they should have been and it’s what eventually sunk them when they ran into Detroit’s pitching buzzsaw in the ALCS.  With the bulk of the lineup’s power on the shelf or in other uniforms, and their replacements being of similar “all or nothing” offensive makeup, I was counting on that frustrating trend continuing in the early part of this season.  That hasn’t been the case in these last three games, as timely hitting has been at the forefront of this current offensive explosion.

Against the Tigers on Sunday, the Yankees drove in 3 runs with 2-out hits, a Jayson Nix 2-run homer and a Francisco Cervelli RBI single.  As a team they went 0-5 with RISP in scoring position, but still put 7 runs on the board thanks to those big 2-out, run-scoring hits.  On Monday, they drove in 2 more runs with 2-out hits, improved to 5-12 with RISP and scored 11 runs.  And yesterday Tuesday they knocked in an incredible 12 runs with 2 outs and hit 7-17 with RISP, resulting once again in an increased offensive output of 14 total runs.

It doesn’t take Bill James to figure out that hitting with RISP and coming up with hits with 2 outs is a great way to win ballgames, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that as the Yankees have performed better in those departments they’ve also scored more runs.  Still, it’s refreshing to see the Yankee offense be able to do both of those things over these last three games.  More than half of their 32 runs scored have been driven in by 2-out hits and as a team they’ve 12-34 (.353 BA) with RISP.  They’re not just creating scoring opportunities, they’re cashing in on them, with both the long ball and the basic base hit.  We don’t know how long this is going to last, but if they can keep it up they should continue to come out on the winning side of games.

(Photo courtesy of the AP) Continue reading Yanks Making A Lot Of 2-Out Hay To Fuel Their Offensive Breakout

Why Is Brennan Boesch Getting Work At First Base?

Boesch HR

And why are all my Brennan Boesch-based posts titled in the form of a question?  Last week it was wondering how and if Joe was planning on using Boesch at all after he didn’t get much burn in the first few games.  This week it’s trying to figure out what the rationale is in Boesch getting worked out at first base before the last few games.  He’s never played a game at first in his professional career, and according to Boesch he hasn’t played it since high school.  The Yankees, even with Teix out of the picture for the near future, are pretty well covered at first right now with Lyle Overbay and Kevin Youkilis, and there are a few other guys on the roster who make more sense as an emergency option over Boesch.  So why look to add another body to the position so early in the season?  And why Boesch?

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The Farm Report: 4/10/13

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was rained out today.

Trenton lost to New Hampshire 6-3:
The Fisher Cats got to Trenton starter, Nik Turley, early on Wednesday. Kevin Pillar started the bottom of the first with a double and John Tolisano singled, putting runners on the corners. A balk scored Pillar and Tolisano crossed home on a single by Brad Glenn, giving New Hampshire a 2-0 lead. Trenton got one run back in the top of the second. Rob Segedin lead off with a single to right, but was out at second on a a force out by Casey Stevenson. A wild pitch moved Stevenson to second and he scored on a single by Shane Brown. New Hampshire added to their lead in the third. Pillar singled and Tolisano drew a walk before Ryan Schimpf homered, giving the Fisher Cats a 5-1 advantage. Ramon Flores lined a one out double to center in the fifth and was followed by a single from Jose Pirela. Tyler Austin drew a walk, loading the bases and Kyle Roller grounded a single to right, plating Flores. Trenton tried to rally in the eighth, as Roller lead off with a single and Segedin reached on a fielder’s choice. A single by Stevenson scored Roller, but Kyle Higashioka grounded into a double play and they trailed 5-3. New Hampshire got the run back in the bottom of the eighth and held on for the 6-3 victory.

Flores went 2-4 with a run scored, a double and a walk. Pirela went 2-5, as did Roller who picked up a RBI and a run scored. Austin had an off night, going 0-4, drawing one walk and striking out three times. Turley threw six innings and gave up five runs on then hits, a walk and four Ks. Danny Burawa threw a scoreless inning of relief, allowing one hit and two walks, while striking out one. Aaron Dott gave up one run on one hit in his inning of work.

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Continue reading The Farm Report: 4/10/13

Game 9: Play Ball?

Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire

The weather is looking bleak over Progressive Field, and we already know that this game won’t start on time. The map says there will be light rain until 9PM, when there should be a small window until 10PM. If they can survive through that, the Yankees get to face Corey Kluber, who hasn’t had much success in his limited work.

Here’s tonight’s lineup.

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Brennan Boesch RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

You can catch the game on YES or ESPN 2. When and if we get a start time, I will update this post.

UPDATE 7:55: The game has been postponed. Too bad.

UPDATE 8:05: The Yankees will keep Phil Hughes on schedule and skip Ivan Nova in the rotation. This is somewhat surprising considering Hughes was questionable for tomorrow’s game with a stomach bug. As for the Indians, they will skip Corey Kluber and hand the ball to ex-Yankee Zach McAllister. No, there won’t be a double header tomorrow, and the way the weather looks, one game will be hard enough to play.
Continue reading Game 9: Play Ball?

Quick Hits: (Casper) Wells, Injury Updates, Boesch, Lineup

I was personally holding out hope that the Yankees would be able to land Casper Wells as an upgrade over Ben Francisco. But the 10 day limit for the Mariners ran out today, and the Blue Jays claimed the right-handed outfielder. Over his career, Wells has been disappointing, but a lot can be blame on Safeco Field. He’s a .268/.331/.478 hitter on the road, and has a .264/.349/.489 slash against left-handed pitchers. He can also play all parts of the outfield and UZR loves him in all three. Unfortunately, he’ll be the Yankees’ competition for now, and I’m a little surprised that Cashman didn’t try to trade for him over the last week.

A few injury updates today. Derek Jeter took batting practice, fielded, ran the bases, and all this after a day of sprinting. Girardi called this a “big step” in the rehab process, and even met with the media to discuss his timetable. Granderson was also fielding balls today, but only throwing them back underhanded. The centerfielder is still wearing a brace, but could begin a throwing program as soon as tomorrow, and start swinging a fungo bat this weekend. Finally, Michael Pineda, who’s on the same schedule as Cesar Cabral, also pitched a live batting practice yesterday. He’s probably looking at a June return, but Cashman has indicated in a few interviews that the team won’t hesitate to use his options (and prevent him from being a Super Two).

Chad Jennings has some quotes from Brennan Boesch about his recent time at first base. I mentioned yesterday that he played there in college, but he actually last played there in high school. I’m not sure what the Yankees plan to do with him, but he’s been working with Mick Kelleher and Mark Teixeira over the last few weeks. I don’t think he’ll be a replacement for Lyle Overbay, but I wonder if the Yankees see him as a Nick Swisher type RF/1B. Since making changes to his swing, Boesch has been hitting the ball extremely well, and I think the organization sees the 27 year old as a long term piece, rather than just a stopgap.

And today’s lineup.

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Brennan Boesch RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

Ichiro Suzuki had a nice home run yesterday, but so did  Boesch. Boesch will get the start in right field, with Stewart catching over Cervelli. Girardi has really stuck to his guns with the alternating catcher position, and I can’t say that I’m a fan. Stewart has just 2 hits in 10 at bats, while Cervelli is 6 for 17 with 2 extra base hits and 4 walks. On top of that, Stewart has looked awful behind the plate. If the team wants to split up the position, it might do them well to let Stewart walk and call up Austin Romine at the end of the month, who’s currently 7 for 18 with 3 walks.

Ivan Nova is on the mound tonight, and as I mentioned in my post on Monday, watch out for his fastball. He’s now throwing a sinker, and if he’s getting a lot of ground balls, it could be an important part of his repertoire.

Apparently Corey Kluber is starting for the Indians. The right-hander pitched to a 5.14 ERA and a 4.29 FIP in 12 starts last season.

The game is scheduled for 7:05 PM on YES and ESPN2, but the weather isn’t looking so great. From 7 PM through 10 PM there should be intermittent light rain, so maybe it’s time to give Hal a call. Continue reading Quick Hits: (Casper) Wells, Injury Updates, Boesch, Lineup

New Approach At The Plate Has Culver Slugging

Yesterday, I wrote about the Yankees’ 2011 first round pick, Dante Bichette Jr. After hitting just three home runs in 2012, Bichette has broken out in April with two big home runs and a simplified swing. It’s been a bit of an unexpected power surge, but Bichette always had a power swing at third base.

So what if I told you another first round pick has also broken out with a new swing?

No it’s not Slade Heathcott, last night Cito Culver hit two bombs of his own, and that was after narrowly missing one the night before.

In 1,119 minor league plate appearances, Culver has shown very little power, hitting just 6 home runs in total. Last night, he hit 2. The 20 year old Culver has in recent years struggled at the plate, owning a .235/.322/.313 line. Scouts have loved his fielding, but the lack of contact and power has seriously hindered his potential upside.

This year, Culver has tried something tremendously different by dumping his left-handed swing. In an interview with Josh Norris, Culver said that his right-handed swing was more advanced, and was hoping that his left-handed swing would eventually progress to the same level. Now, Culver is batting right-handed only, and the results look incredible.

But batting right-handed only hasn’t been the only change to the shortstop’s approach at the plate. Below is a video comparison of his right-handed swing from both 2012 and 2013.

culver1213

Culver seems to have made the same changes that Dante Bichette Jr. made. While the majority of his batting mechanics have remained the same, the one key difference has been the reduction in his stride. He’s no longer taking that big step, and has reverted to a much simpler heel step.

In the young season, through 30 plate appearances, Culver has now hit 4 singles, 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 home runs for a .310/.333/.655 slash. Though it’s hard to imagine him keeping this pace, this power came out of no where, and the 5 extra base hits are incredibly encouraging. It’s hard to call anything significant through just 30 plate appearances, so take what you will from the results. These results have come with an obvious change at the plate, and this makes Culver a huge prospect to watch this month. Along with Bichette and his similar change, Charleston is bringing some unexpected excitement. Continue reading New Approach At The Plate Has Culver Slugging

Let’s party like it’s 1913

Today is a special day in the history of the franchise we write about, read about, argue about, etc. On this day, 100 years ago, the New York Highlanders played their first game as the New York Yankees. The team had been called the Yankees for awhile but it was finally made official in 1913.

Here’s a link to the 1913 Yankees’ roster. It’s interesting to see the names, ages and height/weight of each player. There were quite a few “short” guys on the team – some as small as 5’5″. And the names are great. Guys like Birdie Cree, Rollie Zeider, Doc Cook and Dutch Sterrett are on the roster.

1913 was also the year the Yankees moved into the Polo Grounds from Hilltop Park. The Yankees had allowed the New York Giants to play in their park for two years from 1911-1912 after the Polo Grounds was badly damaged in a fire. Once it was repaired and open for business again, the Giants returned the favor and the Yankees were able to leave Hilltop park which was falling apart. The teams would share the Polo Grounds until 1923.

The 1913 Yankees finished with a record of 57-94 which ended up placing them seventh in the American League. They scored 529 runs and allowed 668 runs.

(Click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Let’s party like it’s 1913