The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Game 77: Yankees vs. Brewers06.28.11

YANKEES (45-31)
Brett Gardner LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS

RHP Freddy Garcia (6-6, 3.30)
Garcia vs. Brewers

BREWERS (44-35)
Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Corey Hart RF
Mat Gamel DH
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C

RHP Zack Greinke (7-2, 4.77)
Greinke vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network / MLB Network

WEATHER: Pretty nice night here at Yankee Stadium. Little bit of a breeze blowing from right to left.

UMPIRES: HP Fieldin Culbreth, 1B Gary Cederstrom, 2B Adrian Johnson, 3B Alan Porter

ALL-STAR NUMBERS: Dave Robertson has a 1.15 ERA, the second lowest among all Major League pitchers with at least 30 innings pitches. Only Cleveland’s Rafael Perez (1.13) has a lower ERA. Robertson is averaging 1.6 strikeouts per inning.

SERIES WINS: The Yankees have won each of their past five series since June 10, going 12-4 in that stretch immediately after being swept at home by Boston. In those 16 games, the Yankees have averaged 5.81 runs and 9.81 hits. The pitching staff has a 3.29 ERA in that span.

HIP HIP: In his past 17 games — since June 5 — Jorge Posada is batting .420 with four doubles, two homers, eight RBI and a .455 on-base percentage. Before that, he was hitting .169 with six doubles, six homers and 17 RBI in 44 games.

ONE AWAY: Alex Rodriguez has at least one RBI in his past six games, one game shy of his career-long streak (which he’s accomplished four times, most recently in 2007).

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Garcia wiggles out of trouble in the first, stranding runners at second and third.

UPDATE, 7:21 p.m.: I’ll say this much for Nyjer Morgan: That ball off Ramiro Pena’s chest followed by the throw into the dirt by Eduardo Nunez is still the worst play I’ve ever seen in professional baseball. Morgan’s stumble might be second, but that Pena/Nunez play was kind of hilarious. Anyway, it’s 2-0 Yankees in the first.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: The Yankees are clobbering Greinke already. Capped by Nick Swisher’s three-run homer, the Yankees have scored five runs in the second inning and already have a 7-0 lead.

UPDATE, 8:08 p.m.: Greinke didn’t even come out for the third inning. The Brewers are already into their bullpen. This would be a good spot for Sergio Mitre, no?

UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: As usual, terrific job by the scoreboard crew, showing a clip from Major League — “Juuuuuust a bit outside” — then cutting to Bob Uecker in the Brewers broadcast booth.

Meanwhile, the Brewers scratched out two runs in the fourth. Yankees now leading 7-2.

UPDATE, 9:53 p.m.: With an 11-2 Yankees lead, the Brewers have pulled Fielder and Weeks. It’s a blowout, and the Brewers are waved a white flag here in the seventh inning. The Yankees meanwhile, have Dickerson ready to hit for Granderson.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 388 Comments →

A few Tuesday night notes and links02.22.11

Over the weekend, The Associated Press moved a cool story about a 106-year-old Yankees fan living in Florida. Mark Didtler — our trusted AP man covering the team with the beat writers down here in Tampa — went with Billy Connors to meet her, and he wrote the piece.

New York vice president Billy Connors heard about Graham through a friend. On Friday night, he brought her a number of Yankees’ items, including an autographed photo of a favorite player, shortstop Derek Jeter. She was invited to watch a spring training game from a suite at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Her high regard for Jeter is shared with that of another Yankees great, Lou Gehrig, whose farewell speech on July 4, 1939 she witnessed in person.

“He was a nice fellow,” Graham said.

Check out the full story here. And here are a few more links at the end of this unusual day in Tampa.

• If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check out the Bob Klapisch story about Jorge Posada’s health, and the impact of a career behind the plate.

• I also really liked Ken Davidoff’s take on Alex Rodriguez, and the opportunity for him to develop into a true leader during this time of Yankees transition.

Ben Shpigel did a nice job profiling Gustavo Molina, a veteran minor league catcher in a clubhouse full of catching prospects.

Here’s a rather interesting story about Zack Greinke. Seems he doesn’t like to talk to anyone, media or teammates. I can only imagine how this interview would have played in New York.

• Former Yankees prospect Zach McAllister is looking for a new opportunity with the Indians, and he’s sharing a clubhouse with Austin Kearns, for whom he was traded last season.

• Another former Yankees pitcher Brett Tomko has landed with the Rangers, looking to get himself back in the big league mix.

Associated Press photo of Robinson Cano because, random notes deserve a random picture

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 499 Comments →

Quantity vs. quality on the prospect trade market12.20.10

Brewers-Getting GreinkeDid you really think I’d let the aftermath of the Zack Greinke trade pass without linking to Joe Posnanski? Not a chance.

On his blog, Posnanski argued that the Royals traded their best player without getting a best-player type in return. There is no obvious superstar in the package of prospects coming from Milwaukee, and the theory is that one superstar trumps a handful of role players. At the big league level, I agree.

But, in the world of prospects, there is something to be said for quantity as much as quality. True, the Brewers didn’t give up anyone with Jesus Montero’s hype or upside, but Montero is not a superstar yet, and there have been plenty of small-name prospects who have developed into big-name big leaguers.

These were Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects in 2000:

1. Rick Ankiel, lhp, Cardinals
2. Pat Burrell, 1b/of, Phillies
3. Corey Patterson, of, Cubs
4. Vernon Wells, of, Blue Jays
5. Nick Johnson, 1b, Yankees
6. Ruben Mateo, of, Rangers
7. Sean Burroughs, 3b, Padres
8. Rafael Furcal, ss, Braves
9. Ryan Anderson, lhp, Mariners
10. John Patterson, rhp, Diamondbacks

Those were the elite young players in the game, the Montero-type future superstars who could headline any trade for an established big leaguer. A decade later, those 10 have combined for five all-star game appearances (all by Wells and Furcal), two Top 10 MVP finishes (Burrell and Wells) and one cautionary tale.

You could do this with any Top 100 prospect list in the Baseball America archive.

The 2005 top 10 had Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer and Felix Hernandez. It also had Joel Guzman, Casey Kotchman and Andy Marte. The 1996 Top 10 had Derek Jeter, Vlad Guerrero and Andruw Jones. It also had Ruben Rivera, Karim Garcia and Ben Davis. The 1990 Top 10 had Juan Gonzalez, Sandy Alomar Jr. and John Olerud. It also had Ben McDonald, Kiki Jones and Eric Anthony.

Can’t-miss prospects don’t exist. That’s part of the reason the Yankees signed Russell Martin. Montero is close to a sure thing, but he hasn’t done anything at the big league level just yet, and the depth of the Yankees system is as much a strength as the presence of Montero and Manny Banuelos at the top .

Let there be no doubt, quality matters. But in player development, so does quantity.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 402 Comments →

Panic and patience12.20.10

At some point yesterday morning, around the time the Zack Greinke news spread to major media outlets, the state of panic in the Yankees fan base seemed to reach a new peak for this offseason.

The concern was very mild when the Derek Jeter negotiations turned sour. Then the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez. Then the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford. Then Philadelphia got Cliff Lee. Then Milwaukee landed Greinke. One by one, big pieces have come off the board, and all the Yankees have done is re-sign two of their own plus a catcher who hasn’t hit in two years.

My question is this: Is the concern centered on wanting the Yankees to do something or wanting them to do anything? In other words, is there something specific Brian Cashman has done wrong and needs to fix, or are his patience and silence making things uncomfortable?

Cashman hasn’t done much, but I’m not sure he’s truly missed out on very much either. I would never argue that he’s had a good offseason, but looking at a few common complaints, it might also be too early to claim he’s had a bad one.

Red Sox CrawfordTop free agents got away
Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford signed before Cliff Lee, and that essentially kept the Yankees out of the running for either of them. Outfield wasn’t a priority, pitching was, and Lee might or might not have been a fair fight. Otherwise, the biggest free agents who fit with the Yankees, signed with the Yankees: Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Trade targets have gone elsewhere
There was obvious frustration yesterday when Zack Greinke landed in Milwaukee for a package of young players that did not include a single premier prospect, but the Yankees didn’t match what the Royals were looking for in up the middle talent. It’s not even certain the Yankees considered Greinke a viable option in New York. Otherwise, most completed trades have been for players who either didn’t fit for the Yankees (Adrian Gonzalez, Dan Uggla) or are infinitely replaceable (Brendan Ryan, Josh Willingham). Those deals to not make or break the Yankees season.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballThe lineup has not improved
The lineup didn’t need to improve. The Yankees scored the most runs in baseball last season, and that was despite down years from Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. The one position that needed a boost, catcher, has been addressed with a reasonable $4-million deal with Russell Martin. It would have been surprising to see the Yankees overhaul the lineup. Staying with more or less the same starting nine is not a shock, nor should it be a cause for concern.

The rotation still has holes
This is true. Andy Pettitte still hasn’t made a decision, and that’s as expected. Lee was supposed to make everything better, but he signed elsewhere despite a bigger offer from the Yankees. At the time, Cashman said he would be patient, that the cost in terms of both free agents and trade chips would go through the roof for a while. That was less than a week ago. In that time, who, aside from Greinke, has come off the board who would have helped the Yankees rotation?

ALCS Yankees Rangers BaseballThe bullpen still has holes
Perhaps the most legitimate gripe of the Yankees offseason. The team hasn’t necessarily been stingy — it did award the second largest left-handed reliever contract of the winter — but it hasn’t been aggressive either. The relief market still has plenty of viable options, but the a lot of late-inning options have come off the board (some on surprisingly large and lengthy deals, but that’s the going rate for relievers these days).

Eduardo Nunez is the best hitter on the bench
Not to knock on Noony, but the Yankees bench remains incredibly young and inexperienced, but it should come as no shock that Cashman is taking his time finding reserves and role players. Last year he let the market for Marcus Thames fall all the way to a minor league deal, and that was arguably his best offseason signing. The Randy Winn deal, of course, didn’t work so well. The Yankees still have a very real need for a fourth outfielder, and an experienced utility man wouldn’t hurt, but there are plenty of those options available.

Associated Press photos of Crawford, Rodriguez and Kerry Wood

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 355 Comments →

Could the Yankees have topped the Greinke offer?12.19.10

Poor Zack Greinke. His turn as the most desirable pitcher in baseball didn’t even last a week.

In the days leading up to Greinke’s trade to the Brewers, the Royals were said to be focused on up-the-middle prospects, and that’s exactly what they got. Because the prospects package was built around a shortstop and center fielder, it really doesn’t matchup especially well with the Yankees minor league system, but the Yankees could have matched the raw talent. It simply would have taken a lot to do so.

Here’s what the Brewers are sending to Kansas City.

SS Alcides Escobar
Had a disappointing first full season in the big leagues — .235/.288/.326 — but he also just turned 24 and entered the 2010 season as the top shortstop prospect in baseball. The Yankees don’t have anyone quite like Escobar, but 10 months ago, Baseball America ranked Jesus Montero as a slightly better overall prospect. If the Royals wanted a premier young shortstop, the Yankees couldn’t have matched that (Eduardo Nunez doesn’t matchup with Escobar), but they could have topped the headline talent.

CF Lorenzo Cain
Finally healthy, Cain  spent 2010 establishing himself as a premier prospect. He hit .317/.402/.432 between Double-A and Triple-A, then got to the big leagues and hit .306/.348/.415 with seven stolen bases in 43 games. He’s considered an elite defender. The easy comparison here is Brett Gardner, though Cain is three years younger.

RHP Jake Odorizzi
A supplemental first-round pick in 2008,  Odorizzi was actually labeled as a “lesser version of Zack Greinke” in Baseball America’s breakdown of the top prospects in the Midwest League. Hard for me to say for sure, but Odorizzi probably ranks closer to the Yankees top three pitching prospects (Betances, Banuelos, Brackman) than their second tier (Noesi, Phelps, Warren, etc.).

RHP Jeremy Jeffress/PTBNL
Another former first-round pick, Jeffress moved to the bullpen this year and moved quickly to the big leagues. He’s drawn raves for his raw talent, but he’s also had multiple drug suspensions. The fourth piece in the deal has been reported as Jeffress, and it’s been reported as a player to be named later. If it’s Jeffress, then you’re looking at a second legitimate pitching prospect. If not, the fact Jeffress was floated in earlier rumors, makes me think the PTBNL is at least fairly significant.

As long as the Royals weren’t sold on the idea of landing a shortstop, a package of Montero, Gardner, Brackman and Nova probably would have topped the Brewers offer, but that’s a massive group. If I weren’t convinced already — I was — the fact Escobar was traded makes me absolutely certain the Yankees would have been forced to part with Montero to get Greinke. He’s a bigger prospect than anyone in the Brewers package, but that’s the only way the Yankees could have made up for not having a comparable shortstop. Guys like Greinke never come come cheap, and he certainly didn’t come cheap today.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 276 Comments →

The danger of assumption and projection12.18.10

ph_425844At the end of a slow day in baseball, I’ll turn the floor over to Joe Posnanski.

After Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee took their turns in the offseason spotlight — a place where speculation and wild guesswork are disguised as viable forms of analysis — it’s now Zack Greinke’s turn. And no one has covered Greinke as well as Posnanski, who wrote about him again this week:

I don’t know how Zack Greinke would do in New York or Chicago or any other big market. How could I know? But when I see people question his toughness or his psyche — either in direct words on Twitter or, infinitely more annoying, in read-between-the-lines quotes and stories — I guess they don’t know him any better than I do.

Feel free to debate the merits of the Yankees trading for Greinke — would he be worth the prospects, would he thrive in this market? — but that debate must always end with the realization that no one knows for certain.

Posnanski makes the argument that Kansas City might actually be the worst place for him, that pitching in games that matter would actually bring out the best in Greinke, and that a team of superstars would let him blend in rather than standout. Posnanski also acknowledges that, despite all the time he’s spent with Greinke, he can only guess what a move to New York might mean.

I also think it’s possible that the New York Yankees — with all of their money, their background checks, their good scouting and everything else — don’t know Greinke any better than anyone else.

And now a few more links and notes from a quiet Saturday.

• The Red Sox continue to build, signing reliever Dan Wheeler to help in their bullpen. Wheeler, Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard give Boston some right-handed depth leading into the ninth inning.

• Boston is still reportedly interested in signing an additional left-handed reliever.

• Marcus Thames was being chased by Japanese team earlier this offseason. Now it seems he has some big league clubs interested in using him in left field. The Dodgers have been linked to him, and so have the Orioles. He could still fit for the Yankees as a right-handed corner outfielder, but the team would have to hope that his bat is good enough to make up for his glove.

• Hideki Matsui’s deal in Oakland has a partial no-trade clause that prevents trades to some of the worst teams in the American League. Of course, it’s hard to imagine any of those teams — except maybe the Twins — actually wanting to trade for him midseason.

• From the random, non-baseball events of my life category: This afternoon I put on an old live album called General Admission by the Pat McGee Band, one of my absolute favorites back in college. There’s no point to this paragraph, I’ve just been listening to that CD all day and felt like sharing an underrated band and an underrated album. PMB hit its peak with a studio album called Shine that seemed to come out about seven years too late, after the initial buzz of vaguely similar groups — Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Blues Traveler — had died and given way to lesser forms of pop music.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 319 Comments →

Yankees give back, plus some notes and links12.17.10

Good work by the Yankees, who hosted their Bronx Winter Wonderland event this afternoon in the Great Hall of Yankee Stadium. The team gave toys to approximately 5,000 children from the Bronx community. The event also included food, plenty of Christmas decorations and caroling from the Bronx-based Renaissance EMS (Education through Music and Sports). Mattel donated 2,000 toys, and the Yankees spent $25,000 on additional toys for the kids.

Good stuff. And on to some notes and links for the day.

Zack Greinke apparently wants out of Kansas City. FOX Sports reports that he’s asked the Royals to trade him, and the Royals have discussed trade possibilities with multiple teams. Today Greinke also changed agents, signing with Casey Close, who represents Derek Jeter.

Chad Gaudin has landed with the Nationals, agreeing to a minor league deal.

Apparently the deal between Dennys Reyes and the Phillies is off.

Apparently the trade between the Padres and Rays is back on. Jason Bartlett being traded to San Diego was reported during the Winter Meetings, but getting it finalized took a while.

• The top position player still on the market is Adrian Beltre, and the Angels have reportedly made a “significant” offer.

Kerry Wood’s signing is official, and he acknowledged that his offseason was all about rejoining the Cubs. “It’s never been about the money,” Wood said. “It’s about being home and being here at Wrigley, which is home for me.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 615 Comments →

Berkman finds a home in St. Louis12.04.10

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballObviously this day was all about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Frankly, the past week has been all about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Outside of the Yankees universe, though, another familiar face signed this afternoon.

Lance Berkman settled on a one-year deal with the Cardinals. He’ll reportedly make $8 million and play left field. According to the Post-Dispatch: “The physical, combined with Berkman’s weight loss this off-season, assured the club he could again handle an everyday role in the field.”

Risky? Sure. But as Jon Heyman pointed out on Twitter, in two of the past three years a team won the World Series with Pat Burrell in left field. Just saying, that’s all.

Yankee fans never seemed quite sold on Berkman, but he was an unquestioned favorite in the clubhouse. He players liked him, and the media loved him. He’s a good guy. I wish him nothing but the best.

A few other notes for the day…

• To finalize the Adrian Gonzalez trade, the Red Sox have until 2 p.m. Sunday to work out a contract extension.

• Word is the Blue Jays are making a push for Zack Greinke. Not sure he would make Toronto a legitimate threat, but Greinke would make that an awfully good rotation.

• Former Yankees reliever/spot starter Jeff Karstens has re-signed with the Pirates. He’ll make more than a million bucks. Good for him. Another guy I always enjoyed talking to.

• For the Astros, it made sense to let Berkman go, but it’s going to be awkward seeing him in the National League Central.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 643 Comments →

The deal on Zack Greinke11.13.10

zack-greinke-1117jpg-d047ee4d80b32037_largeAlthough the David DeJesus emails have definitely started to slow down, there is still a reasonable amount of Zack Greinke-related questions coming in, all of which are some variation on the theme: “Can the Yankees get him? And for how much?”

Look, I know there aren’t a lot of options out there after Cliff Lee. And, truth be told, I think the Yankees are going to succeed in signing Lee which will render the “Plan B” issue moot. But if, for whatever reason, the Yankees don’t end up with Lee than I wouldn’t hold your breath on the Yankees pulling off a trade for Greinke.

Why not? Two main reasons.

1. The Royals don’t seem particularly likely to deal him. At least not yet. More likely, a deal will come a little ways down the line. In an interview with MLB Radio on Friday, Royals GM Dayton Moore said that if the club can’t sign Greinke to a multi-year deal “then we are going to have to make a decision to move him at some point in time. Is that this winter? I don’t know. Is it prior to the deadline in 2011? Possibly. Is it off-season 2011? But we will have to make that determination no different than other clubs have had to make. Minnesota had to make a similar decision with [Johan] Santana and, of course, Cleveland had to make a decision similar with [Cliff] Lee and [C.C.] Sabathia. So we will have to maximize his value certainly at some point in time.”

Moore has also said he has nothing in the works, has not called any other clubs about Greinke and he doesn’t anticipate anything happening soon unless another team “just blows us away.”

2. It seems very, very unlikely that he’d want to come to New York. And if you don’t really want to be here, it’s infinitely harder to do well here. Greinke has a limited no-trade clause in his current contract and there have been reports already that he has told friends he won’t waive it to go to a New York team. As someone who deals with social anxiety issues, a big-city fishbowl seems like a poor fit; more likely, I could see Greinke ending up somewhere like Texas, a team which has said it wants to pursue him regardless of what happens with Cliff Lee.

Put both factors together and you end up with the Yankees having to pay a steep price in prospects and money to land and then sign a pitcher who may or may not really want to play in the big city. I know Greinke is good – really, really good – but this is one of those situations where it just seems like the Yankees would be better off staying away.

* Thanks to the AP for the photo of Greinke.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 165 Comments →

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