Posted on: August 9, 2009 10:41 am

Thoughts on the Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry

  • Am I the only one who finds the idea that Red Sox fans are done with Theo Epstein absurd?  The man not only changed the Red Sox from lovable losers to obnoxious winners, but he changed the entire game and the way teams manage their prospects and rosters.  If I'm running any team in the league (including the Yankees), I'd jump at the chance to hire him.
  • Some fans of both teams are such poor sports it's disgusting.  How many times do we really need to read the "I'm right and you're wrong" arguments on these boards.
  • Yankees fans are incredibly fortunate to have beat writer Peter Abraham blogging.  He's the best baseball blogger I've seen.  Check him out at http://yankees.lhblogs.com/ whether you're a Yankee fan or not -- you'll appreciate the type of coverage he provides.
  • Red Sox fans got a nice reprieve from having to join the rest of the world in the reality that players on their team did steroids this week, with the plausable deniability defense of David Ortiz.  I would be much faster to believe all of it if we hadn't heard it from others many times before (and not once has the person actually turned out to be clean).
  • For any Red Sox fans who read this, why haven't the Red Sox promoted Michael Bowden yet?  Seems like he deserves a shot, given their current pitching nightmares.
  • Speaking of pitchers, I'm disappointed that the Yankees demoted Mark Melancon.  They didn't have much of a choice, I'll admit, but the guy had 4 appearances (5 2/3 IP) without giving up a run, walking 1, and striking out 5.  He'll be a big part of the bullpen next year.  Until the fifth starter is straightened out, however, they'll need to keep Gaudin and Mitre both on the roster.
  • The Yankees finally admitted that they'll allow Joba to go over his innings limit when it comes to the playoffs.  Let's hope he doesn't get hurt.
  • Speaking of young pitchers, the guy who's arguably the Red Sox's best pitcher, Jon Lester, goes tonight.  If you ask most teams which of Josh Beckett or Jon Lester they'd take, they'd take Lester.
  • As far as Red Sox blogs go, I love the format of this one: http://bostondirtdogs.boston.com/
  • As a Yankee fan, I haven't forgotten about the fact that the Yankees entered this series 0-8 against the Red Sox.  What goes up may also come back down. 
  • ARod's hip is bothering him, you can tell from his recent performance at the plate as well as how he's moving while waiting for the ball to be hit.  He really needs a day off, and soon. 
  • The Yankees already must regret ARod's contract, and they will grow to hate it in time, unfortunately.
  • The Yankees' minor league system has been demolished by injuries this year.  Jesus Montero, Ian Kennedy, Zach McAllister, Alan Horne, George Kontos, Chris Garcia, and Dellin Betances, among others, have all been lost to injury at some point this year (or for the remainder season, for most of them).  If it weren't for the development of Arodys Vizcaino and Kelvin DeLeon in Staten Island, I'm not sure what I could say that was positive about the minor league system just now.  Maybe that Austin Jackson's finally out of his recent slump?  Or that McAllister is pitching again?  Or that Andrew Brackman wasn't quite so awful in his last outing?
Category: MLB
Posted on: April 24, 2008 11:40 pm

Charleston RiverDogs move to 18-3

Ok, so it's a minor league team, and well, you should never get too excited one way or another with the record of a minor league team.  However, this isn't a team made up of a bunch of overage players, this is a team that's loooooaaaaded with young prospects.  18-3?  Are you kidding me?

I'm going to do a report on how all the Yankees' prospects are doing shortly, but I'll start with the RiverDogs, as their performance has been phenominal.

Position players:

C2: Austin Romine: .351/.367/.439 (Currently on the DL), 19 years old

Can you believe this guy's the #2 catching prospect (although the more likely to stick behind the plate) on his own team?  And these stats were after a rough start.  Unfortunately, he got hurt recently, and no real word on the severity of the injury.  He and Jesus Montero (below) were alternating games behind the plate vs DH.  I originally questioned the idea, but in the end I kind of like it. 

C1: Jesus! Montero:  .374/.394/.560, 18 years old Top 10 prospect

If this guy can stick behind the plate, he's going to be amazing.  Even if he winds up at 1st like so many other catching prospects, he's still going to be very good.  The Yankees have said he'll spend the entire year in Charleston, supposedly to work on his defense at catcher.  He's got a strong arm, and seems to be doing fine at both calling games (the pitchers' era is absurdly low, but then again, there are a bunch of great prospects here) and throwing out runners (throwing out two yesterday, but making a throwing error today). 

1B: .Brandon Laird: .260/.322/.364, 21 years old

Laird's not anywhere near being a top prospect, but he put up a great line last year at Staten Island (.339/.367/.577) and has an outside shot to be a useful player.

2B: Justin Snyder: .341/.402/.500, 22 years old

Has 10 errors playing mostly at 2nd, but he's a natural 3rd baseman that they've moved around a bit.  Played some 2nd, short, and 3rd last year.  This stat line isn't out of character for him.  He hit .335/.459/.477 in the short season Staten Island league last season after being drafted in the 21st round.  He's a little old for the league at 22, but he won't be here long, so Charleston should enjoy him while he lasts.

3B: Brad Suttle: .390/.457/.610, 22 years old

Given a well above slot bonus last season by the Yankees in the 4th round (he got supplemental first money), he's considered a strong prospect by the Yankees.  They completely re-created his swing after drafting him, and his struggles in HWB showed it (he was something like 0-28 at one point), but it's obviously paid off.  He just came off the DL tonight, and showed no ill effects, going 2-3 w/ a triple and a walk.  He's going to get lots of nice fat pitches to hit too, batting ahead of Jesus Montero in the #3 spot.

SS: Carmen Angelini, .239/.307/.269, 19 years old

Angelini is the top shortstop prospect in the Yankees system (in my opinion, at least), but he's had a rough start to the season at the plate.   He has 7 steals though, which shows you his speed.

LF: Austin Krum, .262/.333/.377, 22 years old

Got arrested in the offseason for doing something stupid.  I personally don't see him amounting to much.

CF: Abe Almonte, .268/.330/.429, 3 hr, 7 sb, 18 years old

Almonte's a nice CF prospect, who may turn out to be special.  He's small (5-9) but shows good power for an 18 yo in A ball.  He struggled a bit at the plate to start the season, but has come on lately.

RF: David Williams, 24, not a prospect

Pitching Staff:

Dellin Betances: 3-0, 2.39, 35 Ks/18 BBs in 26 IP, 6'8" 20 year old top 10 prospect

Betances has been great this year, but the best thing thus far is that he's stayed healthy.  His control isn't where you'd want it yet, but that's why he's in A ball.  If he stays healthy and pitches through the year, it's a huge success for him.

Zachary McAllister, 2-1, 1.13, 19 Ks/4 BBS, .79 WHIP, 20 year old, 6'6"

McAllister outpitched Betances last year, and thus far he's doing it this year, too.  He'll probably be one of the yankees' top 10 prospects by season end.  He's showing excellent control.  No idea on his velocity right now.  Only next to Betances and Andrew Brackman (6'10 to 7' depending on the report) does this 6'6" righty not get considered tall.

Jairo Heredia, 2-0, 3.48,  22 Ks/7 BBs, 18 years old

I think he'd be on a lot of team's top 10 prospect lists, but he's the #3 prospect at the moment among pitchers on Charleston.  At 18, he has a lot going for him, hitting 93/94 on the radar gun, and he's projectable.  He was baseball america's #15 prospect in the Gulf Coast League last season.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 18, 2008 10:36 am

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

In this season opening breakdown, we'll review where the Yankees stood at this time last year, compared to where they are now.

Catcher: 2007 Jorge Posada; 2008 Same
Outlook: Worse

Posada's another year older, and he had a career year last year at the plate.  He was also much worse than his career numbers at throwing runners out.  Will the upward trend remain up and the downward trend reverse?  I'd say both are long shots.  As a result, I expect the Yankees to be worse at catcher in 2008 than in 2007, both offensively and defensively. 

Reserves: Jose Molina
Unfortunately, with Francisco Cervelli out for 10 weeks with a broken wrist, the Yankees are in no better shape to absorb a catcher injury than they were last year.  If Posada misses extended time, the Yankees will need to turn to Molina, followed by a replacement level catcher.  If Cervelli were healthy, he'd be better than that, but he's not going to be an option at all this season.

First Base: 2007 Josh Phelps/Doug Mientkeiwicz, 2008 Giambi/Duncan/Ensberg/Betemit
Outlook: Better

Say what you will regarding Giambi's improvements this spring, he really can't be worse than he was last year (right?).  He'll be playing for a contract.  On top of that, Ensberg's a quality player, even if he's not played 1st.  Duncan's developed a cult following, and has been dominant in spring training.  Out of these four players, it's my belief you're going to have a strong showing out of first this year, one of the better (albeit most expensive) outputs in the AL.

Second Base:  2007 Robinson Cano, 2008 Same
Outlook: Better

Cano's only 23, and he should still be on the upswing in terms of growth and potential.  He's a rising star, considered by most as the best second baseman in the AL.  He's one of the few Yankees regulars that is still on the upside of his career.

Shortstop: 2007 Derek Jeter, 2008 Same
Outlook: Same

Jeter didn't have a great 2007, so I don't see him necessarily declining in 2008.  That said, he's below average defensively, but well above average offensively.  He should produce at about the same level as last year.

Third Base: 2007 Alex Rodriguez, 2008 Same
Outlook: Worse

What, you expect another 56 home run, MVP season?  Maybe it will happen, but it's certainly too much to expect.  There's lots of room on the downside and not much on the up, so odds are he'll be worse than last season.  He should still be one of the top 2 (with Miguel Cabrera) offensive third basemen in the AL.

Left Field: 2007 Hideki Matsui, 2008 Johnny Damon
Outlook: Slightly Better
Reserves: Matsui, Shelley Duncan
Matsui wasn't good last year, and he got hurt.  Damon probably won't be much better, but at least the Yankees now have Matsui and Duncan to rest him, potentially.  Damon's defense is better than Matsui's, and his arm isn't such a liability in left.  He should be one of the better left fielders, defensively, when healthy.  It's hard to tell what's going to happen this year, but I'm guessing it will be slightly better than last.

Center Field: 2007 Johnny Damon, 2008 Melky Cabrera
Outlook: Slightly Better

Cabrera's on the upside of his career.  This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.  Austin Jackson and Brett Gardner are nipping at his heels, and so if he doesn't produce early on, he'll be replaced.  Gardner's an outfielder in the Juan Pierre mold (no power, lots of speed, good defense), while Jackson fits more in line with a poor man's Ken Griffey, Jr, plenty of power, solid defense, good speed.   Gardner's ready now, Jackson's chance won't come for another year unless the Yankees are desperate.  Either way, Cabrera can feel the pressure, and I think he'll respond well to it.

Right Field: 2007 Bobby Abreu, 2008 Same
Outlook: Worse

This is a tough one, as Abreu could go either way.  He wasn't great in 2007, and this is a contract year.  He's in better shape now, but he's a year older.  I'm guessing that age is going to be a bigger factor than motivation, and he'll regress a bit, but still be solid.

Designated Hitter: 2007 Jason Giambi, 2008 Hideki Matsui
Outlook: Slightly Better

Giambi was awful in the DH slot, and the production here's even worse if you exclude some players like Alex Rodriguez who made a couple starts. As a whole, the position only produced a .334 OBP and .414 SLG.  That's not going to cut it.  It should be better this year. 

Starting Pitching:

2007 Chien-Ming Wang, 2008 Same
Outlook: Same

Wang has been solid throughout his career, and the same should be expected this year.  There's no reason to expect more or less than last year's stats, which made him one of the top 15 starters in the AL.

2. 2007 Andy Pettitte, 2008 Same
Outlook: Same

Pettitte was solid last year, not exceptional, but solid.  He's had a rough offseason.  I think he'll produce at about the same level as last year, which would be a solid innings eater, and the only lefty in the starting rotation.

3. 2007 Mike Mussina, 2008 Mike Mussina + Joba Chamberlain
Outlook: Better

Okay, so Mussina really isn't the 3rd starter this year, but this made it easier to lay out the season.  Mussina will either be better this year, or will be replaced by Joba by July.  Either way, the Yankees should expect improved production from this spot.

4. 2007 Carl Pavano + Roger Clemens, 2008 Phil Hughes
Outlook: Much better

Even if you don't believe in Phil Franchise, you've got to believe he'll be better than Carl Pavano.  I mean, if he starts two or three games he's better...  Clemens was pretty awful in 2007, nowhere near worth what he was paid.  Hughes was the #1 pitching prospect last year, and despite a few leg injuries, he would still deserve that status if he was rookie eligible.  Regardless, he should be a stud in the long term, if not the short term.  He should be above average, though, in 2008.  That alone will be far better than what the Yankees got from their 4th starters a year ago.

5. 2007 Kei Igawa + Darrell Rasner + Chase Wright + a staff of thousands, 2008 Ian Kennedy
Outlook: Much better

The Yankees had a revolving door in the 5th spot last year.  Igawa, Rasner, Wright were all historically bad.  The only decent pitchers that filled this spot at some point over the season were Hughes and Kennedy, both who are in the rotation this year.  Kennedy should also be above average in 2007, which again will be a huge improvement over last year.

Overall Starting Pitching Outlook:  The Yankees have more depth and more quality in the rotation than last year.  They are counting on some youth in the form of Hughes and Kennedy (and eventually Chamberlain), but there's a ton of talent here, and the starters should put out quality starts more often than not--a huge improvement, and will make things much easier on the bullpen.


Closer: 2007/2008 Mariano Rivera
Outlook: Slightly Worse

Mariano's aging, and so you should expect some small decline, but he should still be one of the best closers in the game.

Setup Man: 2007 Kyle Farnsworth, 2008 Joba Chamberlain
Outlook: Much Better

Joba became a legend last fall.  He'll continue to grow it in the bullpen during the spring, until he eventually moves into the rotation.  At that point, it's hard to say what this spot will look like, so I'm just going with the assumption that he'll stay here for now.  The Yankees have Mark Melancon and Humberto Sanchez who both could be with the ML bullpen by the time Joba's ready to move into the rotation, and both would be an improvement over Farnsworth.

Other Relievers: 2007 Scott Proctor, Luis Vizcaino, Mike Myers, Brian Bruney, Ron Villone, Sean Henn, 2008 Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins, ???, ???, ???
Outlook: Unknown

The three other relievers out of the pen, besides Hawkins and Farnsworth, are still up in the air.  The bullpen wasn't too bad last season, with the exception of Henn and Farnsworth (and some of the other guys I didn't mention, like Edwar Ramirez, Jeff Karstens, etc).  It might be better this year, it might be worse.  There's definitely more talent here, but will that talent produce?  It's hard to say.  Regardless, I don't think it's going to be as needed this year as last.

Overall Reserves: Better

The farm system is ready to produce both young arms and some young position players to fill in if players get injured.  Ensberg's better than anyone they had on the bench last year, and if Jason Lane accepts a spot in the minors, he and Gardner form a really strong backup set of outfielders.  Catcher's still weak, but no weaker than last year--the help there won't be ready for a couple seasons.

Overall Outlook:  Better
The Yankees hitting will be similar, possibly slightly worse.  The defense will be about the same, possibly slightly worse.  The bullpen will probably be a bit better.  The starting pitching is where this team excels.  It was a huge area of weakness last year, and it should be a strength this year.  Their rotation should be one of the best in the majors in 2008, due to its depth. 

Playoff Outlook: Same
Despite the depth of their rotation, it's still not necessarily as strong at the top as the other competitors.  The Angels (Lackey, Escobar--if both are healthy at that point), the Mariners (Bedard, Hernandez), the Indians (Sabathia, Carmona), and the Red Sox (Beckett, and ... perhaps he can pitch with both arms?) could all boast potentially stronger aces and #2 pitchers than the Yankees.  Until Hughes, Kennedy, and Chamberlain mature, that will most likely be the case.  Wang is really a very good #3, and Pettitte's really a #2.  The Yankees don't have that ace yet, but Hughes and Chamberlain have the stuff to be an ace, and I believe Kennedy has the command, control, and makeup to be an ace.  Will that happen in 2008?  That's probably a stretch.  In other words, there's still no guarantee the Yankees make it out of the first round of the playoffs.  I do believe they make it to the playoffs though.

Projected AL Playoff Teams:
Yankees: AL East Winners
Red Sox: Wild Card
Tigers: AL Central Winners (tough call over the Indians, but I don't think either will be out the Red Sox for the Wild Card)
Mariners: AL West Winners
Category: MLB
Tags: Yankees
Posted on: March 15, 2008 10:37 pm

Yankees Opening Day Roster

Today, the Yankees added LHRP Billy Traber to the 40-man roster.  As a result, I believe he will end up on the opening day roster as the lefty specialist out of the pen.  While he still could end up in AAA, that seems unlikely at this point.  He's pitched well, and seems to have earned the spot.

Melky Cabrera's suspension may end up causing the Yankees to make a couple roster moves to start the season.  With Melky out, the Yankees only have Damon who can play CF (and Damon's below average at this point).  They'll want to keep up another player, as Matsui's knee isn't healthy enough for him to be a backup there, and an outfield of Duncan/Abreu/Matsui would be too awful to imagine if something happened to Damon. 

As a result, I believe Brett Gardner will make the roster to start the season.  He's a nice player, and many other teams would have him on the 25-man roster anyway.  He's been called "Juan Pierre who can take a walk", which would make for a nice player, someone very different from the players the Yankees have had man CF over the years, including Melky.  He'll eventually be surpassed by Austin Jackson, so if Gardner's going to get a shot, it's this year.

The Yankees would be expected to keep 12 pitchers, and 13 position players.  Here are the guaranteed players:

C: Posada, Molina
1B: Giambi
2B: Cano
3B: Rodriguez
SS: Jeter
LF: Damon
CF: Cabrera (suspended 3 games)
RF: Abreu
DH: Matsui (assuming he's not on the DL)

SPs: Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Mussina, Kennedy
RPs: Rivera, Chamberlain, Farnsworth, Hawkins

That makes 19 of the 25 spots, with 3 pitchers and 3 hitters remaining.  I'm pretty sure that Shelley Duncan will make the ML roster to start the season.  Wilson Betemit is too good to just get rid of, and I expect he'll be the middle infield sub as he's been working at SS and 2B in the spring, and has always been a sub at 1b and 3b.  That leaves one more hitter spot, which everyone expects to be Morgan Ensberg, because he's too good not to keep.  But Ensberg wasn't put on the 40-man roster, like Traber was.  There's one more 40-man spot (Pavano will go on the 60-day DL), and I still expect that to belong to Ensberg.  Gardner, though, isn't on the 40-man either. 

It's not just down to those two guys fighting for one spot, though.  If either Sean Henn or Brian Bruney fail to make the ML team, they'll need to be sent through waivers as they have no options remaining.  So, Gardner and Ensberg's fates aren't mutually exclusive.  Let's leave the two of them for now, and move on to the bullpen.

At this point. Ross Ohlendorf has earned a spot.  If he doesn't make it, I'd be shocked.  He's pitched extremely well, and he's been put in early in the spring training games, indicating he's going to be a leading 6th-7th-8th inning candidate. I expect Billy Traber to make the team, as I mentioned above.  That leaves 1 bullpen spot. 

Now it gets tough.  1 bullpen spot, 1 hitter spot.  I'm really not sure who's going to win the bullpen spot, but here's some observations:
  • Veras and Bruney are pitching only in the 8th and 9th.  That's vs the other team's minor leaguers.  That's not great evaluation time.  This lowers their chances.
  • Karstens was a (or the) leading candidate until he had an awful game the other day.
  • Igawa was gaining ground, and gave it all back today.
  • Scott Patterson probably deserves the spot, but why hasn't he pitched in almost a week?
  • Edwar Ramirez has been awful, and will probably start in AAA
  • Sean Henn has pitched a little better lately, but still hasn't been good
Based on all of this, my guess is that they give Bruney a shot.  It'll be a waste, but I don't think they're ready to give up on him.  That means Henn's roster spot is freed, as he'll either be traded or waived.  That allows the Yankees to put both Ensberg and Gardner on the 40-man roster.

So, to start the season, here's my prediction:
  1. Ian Kennedy starts the season in the minors.  Why? Because he'll be the 5th starter, and they won't need him immediately.  That lets them keep both Gardner and Ensberg on the opening day roster, while Duncan and Cabrera are serving their suspensions.
  2. At the end of the three game suspension, the Yankees will have to decide what they want to do.  My guess is that Gardner then goes down to the minors at that point, assuming none of the OFs are injured.  If Matsui's injured, though, Gardner remains on the 25-man roster.
  3. Ian Kennedy is then called up.
So, the surprise man out is Ian Kennedy.  He won't really be out, he'll just be lost in the numbers game while Duncan and Melky serve their suspensions.
Category: MLB
Tags: Yankees
Posted on: January 18, 2008 2:17 pm

Surfing the Yankee Websphere - 1/18/2007

Here are the best articles of the day:

River Avenue Blues has an awesome article on: Rehab Guys: What can we expect?  riveraveblues.com/2008/01/18/rehab-

LoHud Blogs guest Writer SJ44 has an interesting article on four prospects he expects to have an impact on the Yankees in 2008:

Chad Jennings writes a best case/worst case for Yankees Catching Prospects in 2008:

The Replacement Level Yankees Blog has a nice story that puts Jorge Posada's 2007 in perspective as they talk about the 10 best Yankees catcher seasons of all time:

WasWatching has an interesting take on Bobby Abreu's 2008 season:

Finally, it's from yesterday, but Moshe Mandel at the Bronx Block talks about What to expect from the first base platoon:
Category: MLB
Tags: Blogs, Yankees
Posted on: January 15, 2008 8:55 pm

Save Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes was the consensus #1 pitching prospect in the game this time last year (excluding Matsuzaka, who shouldn't have been considered a prospect, but I digress).  Other than pulling a hamstring, he's done nothing that should change our opinion on him. 

Concerns:  Hughes appeared to change his arm angle this year.  It caused him to lose 1-3 mph on his fastball.  That turns him from a guy throwing 95 to a guy throwing 92.  That's a huge difference.  95 mph is a plus fastball.  92 is an average fastball.  Hughes has the control to do well regardless, but without that velocity, he turns from an ace to a #2 to #3 starter.

Signs of Hope: After recovering from the hamstring injury, his stats in September and October were excellent: 3-0, 2.73 ERA, 29.2 IP, 1.18 WHIP, 18 Ks.  He has the makings of an ace, and could be one as early as this year.  Don't forget that he was on his way to his own no-hitter prior to pulling his hamstring. 

Don't trade him:  Cashman wouldn't part with Hughes prior to this season.  Just because Joba Chamberlain had a great debut last season that doesn't mean that they should suddenly trade Hughes.  Yes, it's a blow if the Red Sox wind up with Santana.  That said, if they end up acquiring Santana, their total team salary will become very close to that of the Yankees, somewhere in the $160 million range. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com