Jorge Vazquez Should Replace Injured Eric Chavez on Yankees Roster

May 5, 2011

When Eric Chavez came up limping running out his third inning triple today, the first thing I thought was that Jorge Vazquez will finally get his chance to play in the major leagues.

Also, another reaction to the injury was a similar problem which Chien-Ming Wang had a few years ago in Houston. That of breaking a bone in his foot while running the bases.

Most non-players believe that the simple task of running the bases should be easy enough, and most of the times it is. But there are many times where the sprinting and turning take a toll on the feet. When players sprint, they run on their toes, and when a player is making a 90-degree turn while running on their toes, foot injuries can occur.

That is what happened to Wang in Houston while turning third base and now to Chavez while turning second base.

With Chavez now on the disabled list, the first and third back up role should be Vazquez’ now. It might have been Brandon Laird’s job, but Laird has not been hitting well enough at Triple A Scranton. In fact, since Laird’s great debut in Triple A last season when he hit two homers, it has been virtually all downhill for the Yankee youngster.

One thing against Vazquez is he is not on the 40 man roster, while Laird and Ramiro Pena (another possibility) are on the 40 man roster, No big deal. Just drop Kevin Russo, he of no shot of being a Yankee major leaguer. And who cares if someone (Pirates, anybody?) claim him., Guys like Russo are a dime a dozen.

Yankee fans should give Vazquez some space and patience because Jorge does not have much patience at the plate. He only has walked four times this season in 110 plate appearances. He only walked 18 times in over 350 PA last season.

Vazquez will swing at many first pitches, including some out of the zone, many times getting himself out. And he will strike out LOTS OF TIMES. And I mean lots of times, basically every third at bat, Vazquez will walk back to the dugout.

He is not the patient hitter Yankee fans are used to having in their lineup. Sometimes hitters are patient and work counts, etc, but many hitters do not like to take pitches, especially with men on base.

Vazquez is one of those guys.

He can play both first and third base, but does not have nearly the range, glove or arm as Eric Chavez. However, Vazquez does have decent footwork at both positions so it will not be a total loss.

He started the year very good at Scranton, hitting .323 with 9 homers and 27 RBI in April, but has struggled over his last ten games.

Vazquez is streaky and when he gets hot, look out, but when he struggles, the Ks really pile up.

Yankee fans should have patience with Vazquez. With Posada struggling a little, maybe Vazquez can also step in a DH a few games against LH pitchers.

I would also drop Eduardo Nunez. Maybe not right after the two-error game today, but maybe some time next week. Bring up Ramiro Pena, a guy I have always liked for his glove. When your reserve infielder does not play much, all you need is a good glove. Any offense is icing on the cake.

Pena has a great glove, and is more secure at all three infield positions.

So look for two moves by the Yankees. Vazquez replacing Chavez and Pena eventually replacing Nunez.


No Way Jesus Montero Should Have Been Promoted to the Majors

May 20, 2010

When Jorge Posada went on the disabled list, many people wondered if 20 year old Jesus Montero, the Yankees best hitting prospect would be promoted to the big leagues.

If would have been a huge mistake to promote Montero.

First, despite a mini hot streak, Montero is still not driving the ball like he is capable. He has hit only .244 with three home runs and 19 RBI.

Second, at the time you can’t bring up Montero because you still would need to make a corresponding move to get a more versatile player in the Bronx.

Someone like Kevin Russo who can play outfield and infield.

The Yankees need versatility now with so many guys who are hurting and two, Nick Swisher and Marcus Thames, who are taking up a roster spot but unable to play with minor injuries.

It leaves the Yankees in a vulnerable spot with a limited bench.

Bringing Montero up as a catcher and then DH’ing him in a game would leave the Yankees also vulnerable in case Francisco Cervelli gets hurt, especially early in a game.

If that happened, then the pitcher would have to bat since the DH is entering the game as a position player.

That would be an automatic out (unless CC is pitching) and far worse than if Randy Winn (who stinks) is playing.

Not to mention the chance a pitcher such as Hughes or Burnett could get hurt running the bases without any practice doing so. The Yankees still have nightmares about Chien-Ming Wang two season ago in Houston breaking his foot rounding third trying to score a run.

I would support Montero coming up only if the Yankees had two healthy catchers already and they were going to make Jesus the permanent DH.

But if you want to DL Thames, too, and bring up Montero and another catcher, then that would be fine.

The Yankees have a guy in Triple A, Robby Hammock, who is listed as an infielder but has caught 500 games in the minors and over 100 in the majors would fit that bill of catching and versatility.

I have seen him catch before in Spring Training, and he is very intelligent with good instincts. He would be the same type of guy as Chad Moeller, another catcher who also could be brought up.

Either way, it would be a mistake to bring up Montero.


The New York Yankees: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Segment No. 3

May 19, 2010

We are here with our third installment of the Clint Eastwood crusade regarding the New York Yankees. If you missed the first installment, click here .

Second installment? Click here .

The Yankees record is 25-14, three games behind the American League East leading Tampa Bay Rays. And the Yankees are home against Tampa for the next few games, then have a short road trip (across the river) to face the New York Mets for three games, and then on to Minnesota.

While the Yankees did not get into first place after Tampa’s dominant nine-game West Coast road trip earlier in the month, they have a chance to make up two games quickly.

After the Yankees, the Rays head to Houston where they luck out against the worst team in baseball.

THE GOOD

Brett Gardner

He has been really good in his time as a starter . Gardner has put up a line of .280 BA/.345 OBP/.380 SLG/.725 OPS with two doubles, a homer, 3 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. He also scored 10 runs. In February, Yankee fans would have signed on the bottom line for those slash numbers for the entire 2010 season. Currently at .321/.399/.412/.811, Gardy has surpassed all of our expectations.

Alex Rodriguez 

After there was talk about his lack of power, he comes up and wins one game with a grand slam , and ties another with a two-run shot in the bottom of the 9th. Even if he wasn’t hitting home runs, I remember lots of stinging line drives ripped all over the field. His OPS is 1.064 over the last two weeks.

Mark Teixeira

The three and four hitters are finally cranking. Tex has raised his season average to .219 with a two-week spurt of .300/.375/.640/1.015 OPS with five homers and 16 RBI. Although, during the last two Yankee losses, he has come up in the last inning with runners on base and made out both times.

Francisco Cervelli

A total pleasure to watch play the game. No HR’s so far (tied with Ben Zobrist in that category). Enthusiasm, ability to call a game, sets up hitters well, and really comes through with RISP. He slashes .647/700/.882/1.582 in that situation with 15 RBI.

I like his aggressive hacks at pitches in the strike zone. Good to see that aggressive nature in this take a pitch down the middle world we live in.

Juan Miranda

Huh? Why? Well, despite his .231 average, Miranda has a .872 OPS with a long double and booming home run. I love the way he attacks the baseball, looking to hit. But while he is aggressive, he does not swing at too many bad pitches.

I have noticed his tendency of being pull happy, trying to pull fastballs on the outside corner. Even the HR he hit last night was on an outside fastball, but he did try and pull a similar pitch in the 9th inning, too.

He must only like the pitch over the plate because he takes too many fastballs on the inner half.

I truly believe the Nick Johnson signing was a waste of $5 million, when Damon or Miranda could have been had for about the same money.

Young pitchers

Because of injuries to Chan Ho Park and Alfredo Aceves, the Yankees had the Chris Britton memorial shuttle to Scranton working overtime. They needed arms and brought up Romulo Sanchez and Ivan Nova to the majors.

Both players responded very well, combining for 6.2 innings of no run ball, allowing five hits, a walk while striking out four.

Nick Swisher

I was not a huge fan of the trade for Swisher , not because of his talent, but when the Yankees got him they had a glut of 1B/DH/RF types already on the roster.

But since the injuries to Curtis Granderson and now Swisher, you really see how Swisher’s presence is missed in the lineup and in the outfield. His new mentality in the batters box really lengthened the Yankee lineup.

Phil Hughes

Despite the not so bad start Monday, Hughes still had a good two weeks. He made three starts, going 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.105 WHIP. He only walked three batters in 19 IP, a very impressive number.

Andy Pettitte

One start after being skipped and it was more of the same from Andy. 6.1 IP, no runs, good stuff and his fifth victory.

Javy Vazquez

He is moving up the charts quicker than a Taylor Swift single. He was impressive in his two outings, one a start, and one a relief appearance. He pitched seven solid innings in Detroit (but lost a tough one), and entered Monday night’s game to face Kevin Youkilis, and got him swinging with two men on.

His curve appears to have that good break and location, but he needs to keep the fastball on the corners, not in the middle of the plate.

THE BAD

Robinson Cano

He is beginning to swing at non-hittable pitches, getting himself out in the process. His last two weeks have produced .239/.327/.326/.653 OPS with six strikeouts.

CC Sabathia

Three starts, no wins, 5.09 ERA. I know he was ripped off by the bullpen last night and should have gotten the win in Boston before the rain fell, but he is the ace and he can not go three straight starts without a victory.

If I were him, I would sit down with Joe Girardi and tell him, “Unless I am getting knocked around, I want to go eight or nine innings every start. No more of this seven inning garbage.”

AJ Burnett

Two starts, 0-1 record and 8.18 ERA. He is back to Bad AJ, issuing seven free passes and 16 hits in two starts. Almost Ugly. If he has no control of the curveball, he is useless.

David Robertson  

He is improving, but he still walks too many. Six walks in five plus innings, but seven whiffs. He should throw his curveball more for strikes early in the count. No one swings at it and if they do, it isn’t a hittable pitch.

Marcus Thames  

I really would not care if this guy hit five game winning home runs last week, he stinks. The only reason he is not part of the ugly group is the one game-winning home run.

He obviously can’t field, can’t throw and can’t hit righties. He is the ultimate one-dimensional player.

And with a team beset by injuries, that is the worst type of position player to have on the roster.

THE UGLY

Derek Jeter

If I see one corpuscle of blood come across the hall…I mean one more weak ground ball to short, I am going to freak out. FREAK OUT!  

Last night, I had more confidence in Juan Miranda coming through in the ninth inning than I would have if Randy Winn got on base and Jeter came up with a chance to win the game.

He takes too many fastball strikes, can’t hit with authority with the ones he does swing at, and flails at WAY TOO MANY breaking pitches outside the zone.

Jorge Posada

He needs to play or go on the DL. It is a waste to have him on the roster without using him.

If a limping Kirk Gibson can go to the plate in the 1988 World Series against Dennis Eckersley, then Posada could have pinch hit for Winn in the bottom of the 9th inning in Tuesday night’s game.

Posada is showing his age with all the nagging injuries. As I said, either DL him or play him.

Boone Logan  

Boone Logan stinks. Why is Girardi the only one who does not see this? In 6.1 innings this season, Logan has allowed ten runners! Lefties are hitting .357 off him with a .500 slugging percentage.

Send him out and bring up a versatile position player like Kevin Russo, who is now playing outfield in Scranton.

Joba Chamberlain

Whew! Not much to say, we all saw the two games.

Joe Girardi

I pretty much said a couple things about Joe already, but for him to need another pitcher by sending down a speedy outfielder like Greg Golson when Nick Swisher is unavailable, this might be the dumbest move I have seen all year. 

Except when Girardi brings Logan into a game.

Girardi has this penchant for resting certain guys as DH’s, giving them a half day off. That is stupid. Either give them the full day or play them in the field. Have a set DH.

The revolving DH has pushed the Yankees into a non-DH situation three times recently where the pitcher would need to hit, one which was Monday night when there were no bench players left. If the game went into extra innings, then Vazquez would have had to hit.

And if Posada can not play, then Cervelli is the only catcher with Ramiro Pena as the back-up. But when Pena was removed from the game the other day (Alex went in), the DH was lost and not only did the Yankees have no one to pinch hit, they had no backup catcher at all!

Girardi needs to have much better roster management. With too many guys unavailable, but still on the roster, they need versatile guys and a set DH.


New York Yankee 40 man roster needs this off season

August 20, 2009

Every year right after the World Series, the various major league teams need to update their 40 man roster. Sometime in November new names are added and mnay players are designated for assignment and released. The new 40 man roster attendees are usually young players (unless your the Mets, then you need to be over 40) who have impressed and moved up the ranks.

Most are in AA and AAA, but a few needing protecting could be in A ball, especially if the player has just come back from injury. In fact, the Yankees do have one pitcher who fits that description.

If a player not on a 40-man roster has spent four years with a minor-league contract originally signed when 19 or older or five years when signed before the age of 19, he is eligible to be chosen by any team in the rule 5 draft during the off-season. Usually when college players are drafted and they spend three seasons within organization, they are eligible for the Rule 5 draft. High school players (or underage free agents) need to spend four seasons before needing 40 man protection.

The 40 man roster was devised to keep deep teams from hoarding talent within their system.

The Yankees are very fond of keeping young pitchers on the 40 man, exposing injured players and generally have been pretty good about keeping their good talent within. No, I won’t get into the Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady deal for Ross Ohlendorf and Daniel McCutchen. By the way, Ohlendorf now is 11-8 with a 4.15 ERA (sorry no FIP numbers available) for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But the Yankees will need to make significant changes to their 40 man roster this off season. There are good things and bad things about having a tremendous draft (like the Yankees did in 2006) is that all the great college players they took in that draft need to be on the 40 man roster this November. Or they could be drafted elsewhere.

Also, all the high school talent taken prior to 2006 need to be added, too. This group includes future Yankee fan whipping boy Austin Jackson, taken in the 8th round in 2005.

I have identified 11 Yankee farmhands who need to be protected this off season, some household names to those who follow the Yankees, and some which are not.

Those I would ABSOLUTELY protect at Triple A include Jackson, UT Kevin Russo, LHP Zach Kroenke (who will likely be called up anyway in September) and RHP Ivan Nova. Interestingly, both Kroenke and Nova were left unprotected last season, were selected by the Marlins and Padres, respectively, then offered back to the Yankees.

I was shocked both of those guys did not stick with the drafting teams.

Russo is a former college hitting star who can multiple positions including third, second and short. Similar to Ramiro Pena, but with more pop, but less of a glove. He will stick with another team if taken, but his history of injuries might scare off teams.

At Double A Trenton, I would ABSOLUTELY keep RHP Kanekoa Texeira, SS Eduardo Nunez and RHP Lance Pendleton. Little Tex was obtained from the White Sox in the Nick Swisher deal, and Nunez surprised many people in spring training with his hitting exploits (which have carried over into this season). Pendleton is interesting because while he is 26, he finally has been healthy.

Also starting the season at High A Tampa was RHP Tim Norton, a 26 year old taken out of college in that great 2006 draft. I would protect him, too, unless his recent 7 day DL is related to his shoulder surgery he had over a year ago. He is a beast on the mound with a little bit of a mean streak which would serve him well in the bullpen.

That is eight guys, but there are a few tweeners, too. Guys like OF Colin Curtis and George Kontos at AAA plus RHP Jason Stephens, who has bounced around the entire minor league system and is currently at High A Tampa.

Curtis likely won’t stick with another team if taken, but he is a sparkplug type of guy. A little pop, good defense, some speed. Kontos had Tommy John surgery on July 7th and should be out May/June of next season, so he might slip through. But he was performing extremely well before the surgery and I might not take on chance on him. The Yankees are very high on him, and if he didn’t not hurt his arm, he would likely be the #5 starter right now.

Jason Stephens is still only 24 and has been in the Yankee system since age 18, when he was a third round pick out of high school. He has appeared in High A, AA and AAA this season. He had really good success in the early part of his career before elbow surgery, and has pitched effectively this year despite the bouncing around, both with the levels and as a starter and reliever.

I feel if the Yankees left Stephens alone as a starter at Double A this season, he would have better numbers all around. I would protect Stephens because a lesser team could just stick him away as the last guy in the bullpen, and at age 24, he still has loads of potential. 

Of the maybe tweeners, I would keep both Kontos and Stephens, but let Curtis dangle. Yankees might feel otherwise as Curtis is destined for the Arizona Fall League. Maybe an audition for Colin to make the 40 this year? Kevin Russo did the same last year. He was a surprise pick for th AFL, but really blossomed out west and worked his way into the Yankees plans. And that is probably what the Yankees will do, too, as they love to hold young pitching.

Good deal for Curtis, who is a very likable guy, cancer survivor and all. He also played his college baseball at Arizona State. I remember last year after the Trenton Thunder won the Eastern League title, I asked Curtis if that title was bigger than starring in the College World Series his junior season. He smiled, took a few seconds, and said “the College World Series was awesome.”

He actually faced Joba Chamberlain and Zach Kroenke of Nebraska in Game 2, doubling off Kroenke in the 8th.

But since we are adding 10 guys to the 40 man roster, there needs to be some people released off the current 40.

On the current Yankees 40 man roster are marginal players not likely to have an impact on the Yankees major league team such as Jonathan Albaladejo, Wilkin De La Rosa, Christian Garcia (he’s hurt AGAIN!), Edwar Ramirez, Kevin Cash, Shelley Duncan and Xavier Nady.  

That’s seven guys right there – gone, released, see ya’. No way they ever get a shot with the parent club, and many could be re-signed after the release. Yankees just need to clear room for the new blood.

Everyone expects Francisco Cervelli to become the full time backup next season, so that eliminates Jose Molina. Hideki Matsui, as I have written previously, will not be retained. And that is even more true now that he recently had his knee drained, the second time this season he has had that procedure.

That’s nine.

And now the big decisions. Despite how they pitch this season, I can’t see Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre being part of the team for next season, but the Yankees could keep one (if not both) on the roster for depth. Even more so if what I believe should happen, will happen.

That gets us down to the last two possibilities.

Chien-Ming Wang had surgery on his shoulder in July and no one knows how that capsule tear will respond to the stress of throwing. If the Yankees release Wang, will another team claim him? If the Yankees offer Wang arbitration (they have tow more years left on Wang control), he will definitely get no less than $4 million. MLB limits salary reduction at 20%.

The Yankees likely will no-tender Wang, and try to sign him to a minor league deal where he can rehab at his own pace. But if another team signs him to a major league deal, Wang will get major league money, and that it is a possibility of Wang pitching in late 2010 or even 2011 with say…the Dodgers.

The other possibility is Andrew Brackman. Is there anybody out there in Yankee land who thinks this guy is ever going to make it to the big leagues, let alone any higher than Double A? He can’t even throw the ball into the strike zone – at Low A Charleston! Imagine him trying to throw into the miniscule strike zones of major league umpires?

The most important aspect in pitching is control, more important than velocity of “stuff.” Very few pitchers succeed with velocity and stuff but no control, but many succeed with great control and normal velocity.

But no way the Yankees (ie: Brian Cashman) releases Brackman off the 40 man roster, at least not until he gets another year under his belt.

If it comes down to making a decision on one more player to be released to fill out the 40 man roster, I would probably release Wang, try and sign him to a minor league deal then hope for the best that he doesn’t still feel too perturbed about being taken to arbitration a few years ago, losing, and having the Yankees brag about it to the press.

The Yankees would then likely need both Gaudin and Mitre on the roster if Wang goes somewhere else on a major league deal.

That’s what I would do with the 40 man roster this off season. Ten men in, ten men out.


Losing Chien-Ming Wang Not That Great a Yankee Loss

July 24, 2009

Recent news came out that New York Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was shut down again after experiencing shoulder pain while throwing off of flat ground*. Reports have Wang possibly out for the season.

*Can someone please explain how throwing off flat ground helps a pitcher? In games, pitchers throw off 10 inch high mounds, not flat ground. So when I see that a pitcher is rehabbing by throwing off of flat ground, it makes no sense. If your shoulder or elbow doesn’t hurt off flat ground but hurts when you get on the mound, does it make you feel better?

Losing Wang for the balance of the 2009 season really isn’t a big deal for the Yankees. It’s not like Wang was pitching well when he was healthy. What good are “giving a team innings and a veteran presence” when those innings and that presence aren’t very good?

Why isn’t it a big deal? Because Wang was never in the Yankees long term pitching plans.

Despite back to back 19 win seasons in 2006 and 2007, the Yankees did not offer Wang a long term deal. They only renewed Wang for $489,500 for 2007 and went to arbitration in 2008, where Wang lost.

Instead of signing Wang to a multi-year deal, the Yankees fought Wang in the arbitration process, even gloating after their “win” in court. Wang received $4 million that year and avoided arbitration in 2009, signing for $5 million.

Although he still was completely under Yankee control for the next several years, and before Wang was hurt last year in Houston, he had the highest winning percentage of any  pitcher in Major league history with at least 50 career wins. His record entering 2009 was 54-20, for a .730 winning percentage.

If most other clubs had Wang and that record, they would have signed Wang to an extension which carried him through his arbitration years and the first couple years of his free agency. Why then did the Yankees not want to secure Wang’s services through his first couple years of free agency?

The Yankees felt Wang was not as good as his record indicated. The Yankees were waiting and wanting Wang to regain his prior form this season, then trade Wang mid-season to a contender for prospects.

Sinkerball pitchers almost NEVER have long, successful careers. The problem with sinkerball guys is that when their pitches stop sinking, the get hit hard–like Wang has this season. They usually do not have any other pitches to fall back on. When Wang was ultra-successful a few seasons ago, he was mixing in his 95 MPH four-seam fastball, and locating his slider better.

The idea for the Yankees was to promote their younger pitchers in 2009, but to wean them into the rotation. They didn’t want to thrust Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy into the fire as quickly as they did last season. Brian Cashman knew of the innings limitation on the young guns and the team needed to have more than five starters this season.

It is a similar concept which Minnesota did last year, using Livan Hernandez to give them depth early on until they could bring up Francisco Liriano mid-season.

With Wang gone by mid-season, both Hughes and Kennedy would be in the rotation with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte paving the way. Another choice for innings from the rotation was Alfredo Aceves, a nice versatile option.

Envision all four younger guys combining for the last two rotation spots.

After Joba’s innings would be eaten up by August, he would then go to the bullpen. I know the New York papers on Friday had the Joba innings limit thing, but we were on it back in April.

And the Yankees have some really good arms coming up through the system, too. I love Zach McAllister, and despite the Yankees putting him on the minor league DL, he will be in the Bronx by the 2011 season–if not sooner. He is a strike throwing machine. I always love to push young pitchers.

The one thing that hurt the Yankees grand plans were the injuries. Nobody saw Kennedy’s aneurysm or Wang’s shoulder issues. Another thing was Hughes’ dominance in the pen. His pen success only goes to show that it is much easier to be a reliever than a starter, making starters much more valuable. It also shows that patience is needed with young starting pitchers such as Joba, Hughes and Kennedy.

Since Wang is now hurting again, don’t expect the Yankees to tender him a contract for 2010. He wasn’t in their plans for the second half of 2009 and shouldn’t be in their plans for 2010.