29 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes: Mr. Bean, Austin LOOGY, and Other Bad Movies...

I somehow forgot to mention it yesterday, but the latest in the long line of Posada's Pursuers is Keith McDonald, acquired from the Texas Rangers on Saturday for a PTBNL. McDonald is a 33-year old journeyman minor league catcher who's only got eight games of experience in MLB, none since 2001. His career batting average in the minors is .264 and his career slugging percentage is an even .400, neither of which is particularly good. Unless you happen to be suing him for palimony or something like that, this is probably the last you'll ever hear of him. Keith McDonald's on the farm, E-I-E-I-O!

On Monday the Yankees sent RHP Colter Bean to Triple-A Columbus and sent RHP Mark Corey and LHP Dusty Bergman to Minor League camp.

Bean's Propsect of the Week report can be found here, but this is all you really need to know about Bean's chances of making it with the New York Yankees:

PLAYER  W  L  S   ERA  G GS   IP  H  R  HR  BB  SO
C Bean 0 0 0 0.00 1 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 1

One game.

That means that Colter bean got only slightly more of a look this spring than George Pipgras, and he's been dead for 20 years!

Read the rest at Pending Pinstripes...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

28 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes: Six Catchers and Kevin (Rakin')

Recognizing an abundance of outfielders named "Kevin" in Camp, the Yankees sent both Kevins down to the minors this Sunday.

Kevin Thompson, for whom I wrote a Prospect of the Week report, was shipped off to Columbus after hitting .383/.420/.532 in spring training 2006, with one homer, four doubles, 10 runs scored and and nine RBI in 47 at-bats over 23 games. He walked three times and struck out seven times, and stole only two bases in seven attempts. Note to Mr. Thompson: If you ever get to The Show, stay on first. There are few things for which Mr. Torre has less patience than rookie mistakes like getting picked off or caught stealing. As expected, Thompson will be stowed away in AAA as an insurance policy in case the entire Yankee outfield decides to take an ill-advised trip to the Sunni Triangle during the All-Star Break and doesn't make it back.

Read the rest at Pending Pinstripes...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

22 March 2006

All-Baseball.column: 2006 Phillies Predictions

Well, it's officially Spring.

Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. Everybody and their uncles are heading to hardware stores to start home improvement projects. The major leagues are officially sleepwalking through a bunch of meaningless games, trying to get in shape for the real season.

And the Philadelphia Phillies are preparing for yet another year of disappointment.

Let's analyze how it will happen this year, but first, let's see if I had any idea what I was talking about when I've done this in the past:

In 2005, I predicted a second-place finish, and the Phillies won 88 games, finishing within two of the NL East Champion Braves. If they had the NL West as competition instead of the East, they'd have won their division easily. I predicted that no more than two starting pitchers would rack up 200 or more effective innings, and there were exactly two such pitchers: Brett Myers, (215 IP, 3.72 ERA) and Jon Leiber (218 IP, 4.20 ERA). Cory Lidle was also reasonably acceptable, in 184 IP.

I predicted that Pat Burrell would hit something like .275/35/100 with 180 strikeouts, and he hit .281/32/117 with 160 strikeouts.

I predicted that Chase Utley, if he got the play all year, would hit .270 with 25 homers. He hit .291 with 28 homers.

I predicted that Mike Lieberthal would hit .270 with 15 homers in about 130 games. He hit .263 with 12 homers, in 118 games.

I predicted that David Bell would regress to something close to his career line of .260/.320/.400 and would be hitting 8th by the end of the season. He hit .248/.310/.361, more often in the #7 hole than anywhere else.

I suggested that the Phillies lineup might lead the NL in strikeouts, but the Reds ran away with that one, with the Phillies only 9th, though hey were closer to being third than 10th. I also suggested they might lead the league in runs scored, if not for Colorado, but I did not anticipate the effect that the Great American Ballpark would have, pushing Cincinnati to the top of the NL in run scoring (and allowing), while Colorado's AAA team finished a distant 5th.

In 2004, I didn't make any predictions, and the Phightin' Phils won 86 games, ten behind Atlanta.

In 2003 I predicted that they'd make the playoffs, and instead they won only 86 games and finished 3rd in the NL East, behind 101-game winner Atlanta and eventual World Series Champion Florida. That was the year that Joe Table imploded so badly they thought Mike Williams would be a help. Pat Burrell hit .209, Jimmy Rollins stole only 20 bases (getting caught 12 times), and David Bell hit below the Mendoza Line for three months before getting hurt and missing the other three months of the season. Didn't see that coming.

Anyway, so I did a pretty decent job of prognosticating in 2005, though in 2003...not so much.

Let's see how I do for 2006...

Read the rest at All-Baseball.com...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

21 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes: Eric Duncan, Melky Cabrera Among Weekly Spring Yankee Reassignments

Another Sunday in March, another round of cuts from the Yankees' Spring Training camp.

This week, the Yankees sent RHP T.J. Beam to AA Trenton,
Coincidentally, I wrote the following about Beam in December, when the Yankees added him to the 40-man roster:

RHP T.J. Beam is 25 years old and has not gotten past Single-A, where he has spent the last three years. Generally, a 22-year old pitcher drafted out of an NCAA I-A college like UMiss would be expected to advance past A Ball quickly, if he spent any time there at all. Beam pitched OK at low-A Staten Island in 2003, then struggled in the Midwest League, also A-Ball. Ditto for 2004, though the struggles were not as pronounced as they had been in 2003, and he pitched about twice as many innings. In 2005, he was “promoted” to Charleston, in the South Atlantic League, and turned primarily into a relief pitcher. Perhaps it had been his stamina, as he only averaged about 5 innings per start, or perhaps it was thought that his lanky, 6?7? 215 lb. frame would be too prone to mechanics issues to ever thrive as a starter, but it worked. Beam pitched a total of 77 innings between the Sally League and the High-A Florida State League, striking out 105 batters and walking only 25, allowing only four home runs and 17 runs total, for a 1.99 ERA. He’s pretty old for A-Ball, but the Yankees obviously think he’s got something if they added him to the 40-man roster. They’ll likely promote him to AA Trenton in 2006, and perhaps even as far as AAA if he succeeds there, but at this point it’s too early to project him any farther than that.

And as I had suspected, Beam was in fact sent to Trenton. He had only pitched in two official games this spring, allowing three runs in three innings, but he did strike out four batters. As I mentioned, he's not young, so he's really got to get it going and make it to AAA by the end of 2006 if he wants to have a major league career.

They also sent OF Melky Cabrera and LHP Sean Henn to AAA Columbus, who followed RHP Matt DeSalvo and RHP Jeff Karstens, sent there earlier in the week.

Read the rest at Pending Pinstripes...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

14 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes Prospect of the Week:Kevin Thompson

For those of you who've been watching Spring Training instead of the World Baseball Classic, especially Yankee fans, please calm down. (For that matter, those of you who have been watching the WBC and are getting upset about the fact that the United States has not doen as well as hoped, you should really calm down. Think of it this way: The sooner the U.S. loses and gets eliminated, the sooner your favorite player will have to return to Spring Training and get ready to play some games with real meaning. But tha's a story for another time.)

I'm talking about the Spring Numbers Myth, specifically in reference to Kevin Thompson, this week's prospect study. MLB.com's beat writer for the Yankees, mark Feinsand, wrote a piece about Thompson yesterday, and it occurs to me that this is exactly the sort of powder-puff writing that tends to get Yankee fans unnecessarily and inappropriately excited about a player who stands about as much chance of being an impact player for the Yankees as I have of suddenly growing a third arm (though that would make it easier to scratch my own back...)

Kevin Thompson (c. MLB.com)

Thompson's having a nice spring, hitting .400 with a homer, four RBI and five runs in 12 games, but I'm reminded of Jim Bouton's exchange with the Yankees' pitching coach in the spring of 1960something, as related in Ball Four. The coach tells him that he's having a better year than Dooley Womack, and that they're considering bringing him up with the club, to which he responds something like,

Read the rest at Pending Pinstripes...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

13 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes: Hughes, Rasner Among Five Yankees Sent to Minors

On Sunday the Yankees reassigned several players to their minor League Camp. These were:

RHP Philip Hughes

Phil Hughes, ranked the #1 prospect in the Yankees system by Baseball America, was 1-0 with a 5.41 ERA in spring training this year. He had given up two walks, one hit and one run in 1.3 innings in a win over the Blue Jays on March 5th, the Yankees' first win and Hughes' first outing this spring. He then surrendered three hits, a walk and a balk in two innings, allowing one run and striking out two during a relief appearance against Cincinnati on Friday, March 10th, a loss to the Reds. On Sunday he was optioned to the minor league complex, which was no surprise, as Hughes has not yet pitched above Single-A Tampa, and isn't expected to be ready for the majors until at least 2007.

C Jason Brown is a career, journeyman minor leaguer. He’s 31 now and played last season at AA Trenton, hitting .248 with 4 homers in 51 games. He did have a .500 OBP this spring, but getting a walk in two trips to the plate is, as they say in France, a small sample size. Brown never had a shot of making the team anyway. He’ll probably end up in AA again, Crash Davising Phillip Hughes and/or Tyler Clippard.

OF Chris Prieto, also a journeyman minor leaguer, got a cup of coffee with the LAnafornia Angels in mid-May 2005, However, he didn’t have a chance to drink it, as he only saw action as a defensive replacement, going 0-2 in two games, and was promptly sent back to Salt Lake City, where he hit .317/.418/.457 with 26 steals but only 3 homers in 97 games. Now 33, Prieto can potentially be a useful fifth outfielder on a team that needs a little patience and speed off the bench, but not much else. Don’t expect to see him in Yankee Pinstripes this year.

RHP Darrell Rasner, claimed off waivers from the G-Nats last month, had a 1-0 record and a 2.08 ERA in two games (4.3 innings) this spring. He had given up 5 hits but no walks and only one run, striking out four. The win came against the Pirates on March 8th, when he pitched 2.3 innings, allowing four hits (including a homer to Ryan Doumit) and one run, walking none and striking out three. He had also pitched two scoreless innings against the Reds on march 4th, allowing one hit and striking out one. Rasner has an outside chance of seeing some action in the Yankees’ bullpen this year, but he’ll likely spend the year at AAA Columbus unless several of their starting pitchers go down with injuries.

IF Danny Garcia was 25 last year, but must have been injured, as the Baseball Cube reports that he played only two games at AAA Buffalo, in the Indians organization, in 2005. He had played a little for the Mets in 2003-04, mostly at second base, hitting .227 in fewer than 200 total at bats over tow seasons. I’m guessing that he’s a good defensive player, because nothing in his minor league batting record indicates that he’ll be able to hit in the majors. His career line is .273/.343/.392 in 320 games and almost 1300 plate appearances over 4 years. He’s not particularly patient, walking only once every 12 at-bats or so, doesn’t hit for power (13 homers in 1185 at-bats) and doesn’t steal bases (35 steals in four years, with 14 times caught). So I’m guessing it’s defense he’s known for, though he’ll need to prove he’s healthy before he can even get a chance to solidify his place on the Columbus roster.

In any case, none of these were surprises. Being among the first players cut from the Yankees’ spring training roster, these five players whittled the players in camp “down” to 57. Now they can get back to their regularly scheduled development processes in the minors.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

09 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes Prospect of the Week: C.J. Henry

C.J. Henry, ss
Born: May 31, 1986
Height: 6-3 Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: Right
High School: Putnam City High School (Oklahoma City,OK)
Drafted by Yankees in 1st round (17th overall) of 2005 amateur entry draft (June Regular Phase)

This week's spotlighted prospect is C.J. Henry, who's too young to have a nickname better than his initials. The Yankees selected him as their first round pick last year, directly out of high school. Like fellow 2005 Yankees draftee Austin Jackson, Henry came out of high school wanting to play college basketball, and having the athletic tools to do so, if he wanted. As a result the Yankees did what they always do when they have a problem: they threw money at it, er...him, to the tune of a $1.6 million signing bonus. That worked, and Henry reported to the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League.

 G   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO
48 181 32 45 9 3 3 17 17 4 17 39

Avg Obp Slg Ops
.249 .333 .381 714

What's He Got Going For Him?

Read the rest at Pending Pinstripes...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

08 March 2006

All-Baseball.column: Soriano Not Selfish Enough

The Alfonso Soriano soap opera should not exist.

The reasons for this are manifold. For one thing, the Nationals should have just asked him if he would mind playing the outfield, and one way or the other, this wouldn't be a discussion topic at this point. For another, if Soriano thinks that by staying at second base he'll drive up his value in free agency, he's got another think (or two) coming. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up:

Former Yankees and Texas Rangers secondbaseman Alfonso Soriano was traded to the Washington Whatevers in December, for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Termel Sledge and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga. Galaragga's a 24-year old prospect who's not yet had any success above Single-A ball, but Baseball America now considers him the Rangers' 7th best prospect. Sledge has been a reserve outfielder to this point, but he's got a little pop, a little speed, a little patience, and therefore some potential. Wilkerson, therefore, was the only "established major leaguer" on that end of the trade, and the differences between the two are not as great as you think. Wilkerson suffered through a season in one of the worst hitters parks in history, while Soriano played half his games in the best hitters park in the American League. On the road, Wilkerson's OPS was actually over 100 points higher than Soriano's (751 to 639) in 2005, and if that's any indication of their "real" skills, Alfonso will have a lot of trouble adjusting to the unfriendly confines of RFK Stadium in 2006, no matter what position he plays.

Read the rest at All-Baseball.com...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

03 March 2006

All-Baseball.column: The 1919 Chicago White Sox and the “Dead Ball Era”

With the reigning World Champion Chicago White Sox about to begin defending their first title since World War I, I got to thinking about the significance of the 2005 team. They were the first team in decades to have four complete game victories in a playoff series (the ALCS). They ended the second-longest World Chamionship drought in baseball history. They beat a team, swept a team, that had never been to the World Series before.

And that's about where the interest stops. Sure, they finally excised the Curse of the Black Sox, but this team, in and of itself, just wasn't that interesting. They weren't some kind of offensive or defensive or pitching juggernaut. They didn't have any individual regular season or even postseason performances for the ages. They didn't have a lot of future Hall of Famers. Mark Buhrle would need about ten more years of pitching like he has for the last five to even merit discussion on the issue, and their only likely eventual Cooperstown enshrinee, Frank Thomas, didn't play.

So I decided to write a column about the 1919 team instead.

Worse yet, I decided to make a list. Because they're easy.

Ten Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the 1919 Chicago White Sox and the "Dead Ball Era"

10. They threw the World Series.

Just kidding. You probably already knew that. But seriously, a lot of people think that the players, especially Shoeless Joe Jackson, were just victims in all of this, when in fact the evidence exists to show that they (and he) did just that. This is an excerpt from Joe Jackson's grand jury testimony:

Q: Did anybody pay you any money to help throw that series in favor of Cincinnati?
A: They did.

Q: How much did they pay?

A: They promised me $20,000, and paid me five.


Q: How much did he [Chick Gandil, ringleader of the scam] promise you?

A: $20,000 if I would take part.

Q: And you said you would?

A: Yes, sir.

Sounds like an admittance of guilt to me.

Read the rest at All-Baseball.com...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

02 March 2006

Pending Pinstripes: Car Shopping and Minor Leaguers

I went car shopping this weekend.

I don't actually "need" a car at this moment, but that's sort of the point. My car's already 12 years old, rapidly approaching 200,000 miles, and probably due for some major components to start breaking down. If that happens, my car will suddenly become less than worthless, and I'll be hard pressed to find a suitable replacement for it in time to get to work the next day.

But this blog isn't about car shopping. It's about baseball prospects. And given that I'm overdue for a column on Pending Pinstripes (as I often am for Boy of Summer or All-Baseball.com) I got to thinking about prospects, and it began to occur to me that the search for a car is not so different from looking for baseball players. The analogy is far from a perfect one, but I think it's worth exploring.

Read the rest on Pending Pinstripes...

Stumble Upon Toolbar