Archive for April, 2009
Who is the guy in the Cano mask? • 04.29.09
In three plate appearances against Edwin Jackson last night, Robinson Cano saw 27 pitches. He saw 12 pitches in the fourth inning and 10 more in the sixth. That played a huge role in driving up the right-hander’s pitch count. Jackson had to leave a shutout after six innings because he had thrown 117 pitches.
Cano is averaging 3.64 pitches per plate appearance. That’s not great, but it’s a jump up from 3.35 a year ago.
Cano is never going to be a patient hitter, that’s not in his nature. But he’s not not getting himself out by chasing bad pitches, which is what happened so often last season.
Because he is so skilled, Cano can get his bat on pitches over his head or at his cleats. But that’s just what the pitcher was counting on. Now, that little extra ounce or two or patience is making him a killer at the plate.
Don’t be so quick to give up on a player • 04.29.09
Player A first 60 games of his career:
170 ABs, 16 runs scored, 14 RBI, .218/.300/.329.
Player B first 60 games of his career:
186 ABs, 27 runs scored, 20 RBI, .226/.274./290.
Player A is Dustin Pedroia. Player B is Brett Gardner.
Gardner hasn’t hit yet and maybe he never will. Perhaps spring training was a fluke. Melky Cabrera is showing some life after a dismal 2008 and right now he’s the best choice to play center field.
But the Red Sox didn’t give up on Pedroia and he became the Most Valuable Player in the American League. Yes, yes, I realize they are different players. My point is that 60 games aren’t enough to make any decisions.
Perhaps the Yankees should consider that before they abandon their plans to give Gardner a shot in center field.
Today in The Journal News • 04.29.09
Phil Hughes returned to the majors and looked like his old self as the Yankees swamped the Tigers.
Alex Rodriguez took some live hacks yesterday. This notebook also has updates on Jorge Posada, Chien-Ming Wang, Nick Swisher and Jose Molina.
Sam Borden writes that the Yankees didn’t go far enough in their ticket cutbacks.
Kennedy waiting for word on tests • 04.29.09
Ian Kennedy has been terrific down in Scranton, pitching to a 1.59 ERA in four starts. He has allowed 18 hits over 22.2 innings and struck out 25.
But Kennedy left Monday’s start in Rochester because of numbness in one of his fingers on his right hand. He was in New York yesterday getting checked out and we should know more today. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Meanwhile, hard-luck Jason Johnson has a small labrum tear and will miss at least a month. No word yet on who will take his place in the rotation in Scranton.
Guess who’s back? It’s Phil Hughes • 04.29.09
Phil Hughes wasn’t just good tonight, he was great. Six scoreless innings, two hits, two walks, six strikeouts. He threw 59 of 99 pitches for strikes and never cracked in a scoreless duel with Edwin Jackson.
If you were watching closely, Hughes had to fight to get command of his curveball. It was all over the place in the first few innings, even when he threw it for strikes. When he struck out Placido Polanco in the first inning, it was on a curve that wasn’t where he wanted it.
But Hughes made the adjustment between innings, a skill that eluded him last season.
“He was getting quick with his lower half and I said something to him,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “He made the adjustment whereas last year he had something else in his head. He’s much more focused and confident now.”
For me, it was the best Hughes has looked since May 1, 2007 in Texas. He no-hit the Rangers for 6.1 innings that night and struck out six. But he also tore his hamstring. It wasn’t until late last summer in Scranton that the real Hughes started to emerge again after two fruitless seasons.
If you go back to Scranton’s postseason last September and add in the Arizona Fall League, spring training and his first three starts in Scranton this season, Hughes was 7-0 with a 2.17 ERA over 16 starts.
Over 74.2 innings, his line was 51 hits, 18 earned runs, 27 walks and 77 strikeouts. He was heading back to the majors like a speeding car. What he did tonight was confirmation.
I asked him how long ago that game against Texas seemed.
“Ages,” Hughes said. “Ages and not a lot of wins later. Anytime you can talk about a stretch of two years almost and you’ve got a couple wins to show for it between that time, it seems like a long time ago. There were points last year where, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty lost. I felt like I had forgotten how to pitch and things weren’t falling into place for me. I just tried to keep working as hard as I could.”
Chien-Ming Wang is going to be out for a while. Hughes has his chance and if he runs with it, he’ll never see Scranton again. You can’t forget that he doesn’t turn 23 until June. Those last two years weren’t a sign of anything more than inexperience and injury.
“I think he has something to prove,” Eiland said. “That’s a good thing. He can build on this, but it’s only one game. Let’s see him do it again and again and again. He was tremendous tonight. But I’ve seen him do that before and it doesn’t surprise me. That’s how good he can be.”
Here is Hughes talking after the game:
Thanks to everybody for reading tonight and I hope you enjoyed the game. I think a few months from now, we’re all going to look back on tonight as a very important night for this team.
Weird stat of the night • 04.28.09
Jose Molina had a sac bunt and a grand slam in the same inning. That hasn’t happen since May 7, 1975 when Sal Bando of Oakland did it against the California Angels. The Yankees tracked that down via the Elias Sports Bureau.
You know what’s really crazy? Angel Berroa was the next hitter in that game, too. Amazing.
Game 20: Yankees at Tigers • 04.28.09
Pitching: RHP Phil Hughes (season debut).
Pitching: RHP Edwin Jackson (1-1, 2.77).
HUGHES THE MAN: Phil Hughes was 3-0, 1.86 in three starts for Triple-A Scranton. In 19.1 innings he allowed 17 hits and four earned runs. He walked three and struck out 17. Opponents hit .233 against him.
BAD TREND: The Yankees walked once and struck out 17 times in the last two games.
CANO ON A ROLL: Robinson Cano is up to .380 and has hit in 14 straight at 22 of 61. He has hit safely in 28 of 29 games dating last to last season.
NICK NEEDS A KNOCK: Nick Swisher is 6 of 35 (.171) with two RBI in his last nine games. His battig average has gone from .406 to .284.
MATTY MAKING STRIDES: Hideki Matsui 11 of his last 27 and has hit safely in seven straight.
SPUTTERING: The Yankees have scored three runs in the last 19 innings.
APRIL SHOWERS: The Yankees are 32-39 in April the last three seasons.
MINOR MATTERS: Eric Hacker was called up from Trenton to replace Hughes in the Scranton rotation. … Ian Kennedy has allowed 1.59 ERA in his first four starts. … Colin Curtis has a 12-game hit streak for Trenton. … Jeremy Bleich threw six scoreless innings for Tampa last night, fanning six. Jesus Montero is hitting .364, fourth in the FSL. … Manny Banuelos allowed one run in four innings for Charleston. Garrison Lassiter is hitting .346 and has nine RBI in 14 games.
Back later with much more.
UPDATE, 3:34 p.m.: Word is the Yankees are about to announce a cut in some ticket prices. More as that becomes available.
UPDATE, 3:40 p.m.: See details in the previous post on the new ticket prices for some seats.
UPDATE, 4:26 p.m.: Steven Jackson has been sent back to Scranton. Jackson was active for eight games but never got in.
UPDATE, 5:17 p.m.: Posada has a sore hamstring, hence his absence. … A-Rod took live BP today. Sergio Mitre was throwing. … Wang threw a 50-pitch bullpen.
UPDATE, 6:13 p.m.: This from the AP:
Alex Rodriguez participated in a sliding drill for the first time and got 15 at-bats Tuesday during his initial simulated game since undergoing right hip surgery last month.
The New York Yankees third baseman slid five times on a sliding mat, a key step in his rehab program. He also faced rehabbing pitchers Sergio Mitre (elbow) and Paul Patterson (shoulder) in the simulated game.
“A good day. It felt good,” Rodriguez said. “Good to be out there.”
He hit several hard liners to right field and several strong grounders up the middle.
Rodriguez could start playing in extended spring training games this week. The Yankees expect him to rejoin the team by May 15, although it is possible he might be back sooner.
The three-time AL MVP continued to increase his other workouts. Rodriguez took 28 swings in regular batting practice before the simulated game, 66 afterward, and started fielding popups off a pitching machine.
Also, Chien-Ming Wang threw 50 pitches off the mound and might pitch in an extended spring training game late this week.
Wang, on the 15-day disabled list with weakness in his hips, has started working out in a pool. He is doing some of the same work that Rodriguez does as part of his off-field program.
UPDATE, 6:15 p.m.: Joe Girardi, ever coy, said A-Rod was “very close” to playing in an extended spring game. I would guess that comes tomorrow or Thursday. And while the Yankees are sticking to May 15, he’s not going to need two weeks of games. I suspect we will see A-Rod back with the Yankees by May 6 or 7. Certainly by when they go to Baltimore on May 8.
Meanwhile, all those who called Posada a loafer yesterday now feel a little silly as we learn he was “running” with a hamstring pull. Posada thinks he’ll be OK, but it’s enough of an injury to have kept him out of the lineup for two days.
Look for Chien-Ming Wang to get into a game of some sort by Saturday. He’ll throw another bullpen on Thursday. That game, likely extended spring, would be 40-50 pitches. He had two physical therapy sessions today on his hips.
UPDATE, 6:31 p.m.: Here is Joe Girardi’s pre-game interview:
UPDATE, 7:14 p.m.: Hughes is having trouble with his curveball but got Granderson with 94 heat. Good sign.
UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Curveball was working there against Polanco.
UPDATE, 7:19 p.m.: Three up, three down. Welcome back to the majors, Mr. Hughes.
Meanwhile, Berroa wouldn’t have gotten his walker within five feet of that ball.
UPDATE, 7:33 p.m.: So far, so good for Hughes. 32 pitches, 20 strikes, three strikeouts. His curve isn’t steady yet but he’s spotting his fastball well and that is half the battle for a starter. He’s 92-94 with it, which is plenty.
UPDATE, 7:54 p.m.: Hughes looks great and he just fanned Everett with a nice hook. But after getting ahead of Everett 0-2, he needed six more pitches to get him. That’s too many. Learning to be economical is a big thing for a young starter.
Meanwhile, Deryl Cousins isn’t doing him any favors with his strike zone.
UPDATE, 8:24 p.m.: The Yankees are now 8 of 53 with RISP in the last five games. That’s .151.
Cano up to 15 games. … Now Hughes need to find a way out of this jam. A 6-4-3 would work nicely.
UPDATE, 8:31 p.m.: Hughes squirms out of trouble there. He is keeping his composure nicely. Now maybe the Yankees can get him a few runs.
UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.: What a great job by Hughes so far. 5 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts. He’s at 81 pitches. If he’s economical, he can give them another two innings.
UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.: That was a dropped third strike and Cano didn’t run. Once he was tagged, he was out. Cano probably thought it was a foul ball.
Heck of a game.
UPDATE, 9:09 p.m.: Who’s the man? Phil Franchise, that’s who.
6 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts. I have him for 99 pitches, 58 strikes.
Nobody warming up in the Yankees pen. If somebody does, it better be Mark Melancon and not one of the Firestarter Five.
UPDATE, 9:16 p.m.: Second and third for Posada. They have to walk him, no?
Now this means Angel Berroa has to play third. Oh, boy.
UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.: Weird scoring there. Posada gets a sac fly and the second run scores on an error by Anderson.
Regardless, Yankees lead 2-0. Looks like Hughes is staying out there. I would have to think he’s batter by batter at this point. But nobody is warming up.
UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: Looks like Melancon is warming up now. … After scoring three runs over a span of 25 innings, the Yankees have four so far here in the seventh.
Long inning. He’s at 99 pitches. 4-0 lead. Do you get Hughes out? Tough call. I’d go batter by batter.
UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: With this long inning, I think it’s time to pat Hughes on the back and call it a night. If the bullpen can’t hold a 6-0 lead …
UPDATE, 9:43 p.m.: There’s Panda-monium here at the ballpark as Jose Molina delivers a grand slam. It’s 10-0.
Nice night, Phil.
The Yankees saw 56 pitches in that inning.
UPDATE, 9:54 p.m.: Phil Hughes six scoreless followed by a 1-2-3 innings by Mark Melancon? The Yankees are partying like it’s 2010.
It’ll get lost in a 10-0 game. But this is a really good night for the Yankees to have those two guys pitch as well as they did.
At any rate, I have my newspaper story to finish. Enjoy the rest of the game. Sorry for the technical problems as well. I alerted the office and hopefully it’ll get taken care of.
This from Hal Steinbrenner via the Yankees:
“A few weeks ago I indicated that in light of the economy we would review the pricing of a small number of our premium locations at Yankee Stadium; specifically, our Suite Seats. I mentioned a small number of locations because in excess of 3.4 million seats, including 37,000 full season equivalents as well as approximately 85% of all our premium locations have already been sold. Yet, there are a few hundred Suite Seats in our premium locations that have not been sold on a full season basis. As a result, and for many of our fans who have already purchased full season Suite Seats in such premium locations, the Yankees are announcing today a program that adjusts certain prices and benefits affecting such Suite Seats.”
For the 2009 regular season only, the following price adjustments and benefits are being adopted effective immediately for a few hundred Legends Suite and Delta Sky 360 Suite Licensees.
A. The full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 will be reduced from $2,500 to $1,250 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.
B. The full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 11, 12, 13, 27B, 28 and 29 will be reduced from $1,000 to $650 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.
C. All fans who purchased full season $2,500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row, in Sections 16 – 24A, will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the first row in Sections 16 – 24A for each of the remaining regular season games during the 2009 regular season.
D. All fans who purchased full season $1,250 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $1,250 Legends Suite price category for 24 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
E. All fans who purchased full season $850 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $850 Legends Suite price category for 8 games and in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 4 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
F. All fans who purchased full season $600 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 10 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
G. All fans who purchased full season $500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 8 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
H. Future 2009 regular season sales of full season $1,250, $850, $600 and $500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses, will receive comparable (dependent upon the price of the Legends Suite and Ticket License) benefits during the 2009 regular season, subject to availability.
I. The Delta SKY 360 Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 218A – 222 will be reduced from $750 to $550 for each regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.
In addition, for 2009, so as to encourage fans to purchase full season ticket plans in the Field Level Sections 115 – 125, the Yankees are also adopting a program affecting a few hundred seats. And, for our fans who have already purchased, on a full season basis such Field Level seating priced at $325 Sections 115 – 125, the following program is being adopted effective immediately:
A. Going forward all fans when purchasing, on a full season basis, three (3) full regular season ticket plans priced at $325 per regular season game in Sections 115 – 125 will receive a fourth full regular season ticket at no additional cost.
B. All fans who have purchased full season plans priced at $325 per regular season game will receive complimentary regular season tickets within Sections 115 – 125 for remaining regular season games during the 2009 regular season as follows:
1. If you purchased two (2) or three (3) full season tickets you will receive two (2) tickets for every other regular season game, commencing with either the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009 or the Friday evening game on May 1, 2009 and alternating for the remainder of the season.
2. If you purchased four (4) or five (5) full season tickets you will receive two (2) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.
3. If you purchased six (6) or seven (7) full season tickets you will receive three (3) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.
4. If you purchased eight (8) full season tickets you will receive four (4) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.
The draft moves into prime-time • 04.28.09
According to MLB, the June draft will be on MLB Network and will start at 6 p.m. on June 9. There will be 111 picks on the first day, which includes the first three rounds mixed in with two compensation rounds.
Rounds 4-30 are scheduled tentatively for June 10, with the remaining 20 rounds the following day. The last two days will be held by telephone conference call.
The draft used to take two days, now it’ll take three.
When I started out as a sportswriter, baseball would only release the first round picks. They would wait a month before revealing the other picks. The idea — seriously — was to keep college coaches and agents from going after kids. That how much the process has changed over the years.
My first job was at the Norwich, Conn., Bulletin and whenever a player from our area was selected, we would make calls to the area scout and try and learn off the record what round the player was taken in. Sometimes all you would get was “in the 20s” or “later than 35.”
Now 111 picks will be on television. That’s how much it has changed in a short period of time.
No cause for concern yet … right? • 04.28.09
Brian from San Francisco, a loyal reader, checked in via e-mail with a comment that made me laugh.
“The Yankees are like swine flu,” he wrote. “There’s cause for concern but there’s no reason to panic.”
I would say that sums it up nicely.
Meanwhile, if you’re concerned about the swine flu, the Yankees have a perfect solution. Purchase one of the $2,626 Legends Seats behind the plate. You are guaranteed to be at least 10 feet away from anybody else, so the odds of catching the flu are slim.