It’s that time again. In a few hours the calendar will turn to the month of September and for baseball that means roster expansions. All teams will be able to carry their entire 40-man roster at the major league level, not that any team will. But, there will be call-ups. There has been much speculation as to who the Yankees will call up. Perhaps the biggest question has been whether Jesus Montero will get a taste of the majors in 2010? All along I’ve thought the answer would be no because Montero is not on the 40-man roster and he’s probably better off getting playing time with Scranton rather than riding the bench in the majors. Chad Jennings all but confirms that Montero will not be called up tomorrow with reports that Greg Golson, Jonathan Albaladejo, and Chad Moeller are on their way to New York. Jennings says nothing is official, but I tend to feel that these three players will be heading to the Bronx. And with Moeller, a catcher, being called up, I think anybody who wanted to see Montero in the majors this year will have to wait. In addition, Lance Berkman is expected to rejoin the team after playing two rehab games in Trenton. More to come later on September call-ups.
Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are two of the most iconic Yankees ever. Both players played huge roles in the late 90s Yankee dynasty and both players contributed heavily to the 2009 World Champion Yankees. There’s no question that both players have been extremely valuable throughout their careers, but who has been more valuable? This poses to be a much more difficult question than it seems. Has Mariano Rivera and his persistent dominance as a closer been more valuable than Derek Jeter? Or has Jeter’s year in and year out above average play been more valuable than Mo? Well, when in doubt, turn to the numbers.
Mariano Rivera (since 1996)
Total WAR: 35.9
Average WAR (per season): 2.394
Highest WAR (1996) : 4.4
Highest WAR as a closer (2001): 3.3
Total innings pitched: 1,068.2
Derek Jeter (since 1996)
Total WAR: 70.6
Average WAR (per season): 4.71
Highest WARs (1999 & 2009): 7.5 and 7.4 respectively
Total innings played: 19,317
So clearly WAR heavily favors Derek Jeter as more valuable than Mariano Rivera since 1996. Jeter’s total WAR is almost twice as much as Rivera’s total WAR, same goes for Jeter’s average season WAR and highest single season WAR.
My take: Derek Jeter has been more valuable than Mariano Rivera since 1996. And I don’t think it’s even close. The reason, shortstops are more valuable than closers. There’s no doubt that Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer to ever live, the greatest reliever to ever live. While it’s a bit more arguable whether Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop ever, he has been more valuable than Mariano Rivera. Closers play a much more limited role than do shortstops. As a closer Mariano only influences games for one inning, two at the most. On the other hand, as a shortstop Derek Jeter can impact a game for at least 9 innings. This is why Derek Jeter has been much more valuable than Mariano Rivera has been to the Yankees, in my opinion.
There have been some interesting stories developing around the Yankee Universe lately, here’s a quick breakdown.
- A-Rod has become the most recent Yankee to hit the DL as he was placed on the 15-Day DL this afternoon according to Chad Jennings. A-Rod has been dealing with a calf injury, and after a few days of rest, the Yankees medical team decided he was ready to play yesterday. A-Rod did get the start at DH yesterday, but he had to leave the game early. The Yankees are claiming that A-Rod’s calf is in no worse shape than it was a few days ago, but it’s hard to believe that playing yesterday did not further aggravate it.
- Also coming from Jennings, Ivan Nova is being recalled and will get the start for the Yankees on Monday pushing the other starters back a day. Joel Sherman actually broke this news this morning, but now it’s official. I love the idea to plug Nova into the rotation because the extra rest for the rest of the rotation will be well welcomed. It shouldn’t hurt to get the struggling Javier Vazquez some extra rest time, and extra rest for Hughes means he may be able to pitch longer into the season before he hits his innings limit. Although Marc Carig has quoted Brian Cashman as saying that Hughes’ innings limit won’t play a factor in the playoffs and that it will be “all hands on deck”, for what it’s worth.
- Josh Norris has confirmed the rumors that Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances have been promoted to AA Trenton. Banuelos and Betances will join a rotation featuring Andrew Brackman, Adam Warren, and Hector Noesi. That’s a pretty fine rotation that Trenton has there.
- Via NPB Tracker on Twitter, we learn that the Yankees have sent Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler to Japan to watch pitching sensation Yu Darvish. Darvish is only 24 years old, but he has really made a name for himself in Japan, and arguably in the U.S. as well. Darvish is not eligible to become an international free agent until after 2014, but his team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, have the opportunity to post him in which MLB teams would have the right to bid for the opportunity to negotiate a contract with Darvish. There seems to be no question of whether this will happen, it’s just a matter of when. And rest assured, once he is available, the Yankees will be in the Darvish sweepstakes.
- You may have heard the news already, but the Yankees announced yesterday that the Cleveland Indians have selected AAA starter Zach McAllister as the player to be named later in the deal for Austin Kearns. McAllister may seem like a lot to give up for Kearns, but McAllister has really struggled in AAA this season and may no longer have fit in with the Yankees future plans.
- 2010 HOPE Week ended yesterday with the Yankees helping out two sisters, Melida and Johanna Arias. I really enjoyed HOPE Week this year, along with last year, and I hope it has inspired others to help out the community.
Today marks the start of HOPE Week in 2010. HOPE (Helping Others Perservere & Excel) Week was established in 2009, and was a great success. HOPE Week was one of the most memorable moments of the 2009 season, not only because the Yankees went 5-0 during that week, but more importantly because the Yankees were able to help the community and provide great memories for others. I am genuinely excited to see what the Yankees have in store this year. Here is the Yankees press release on HOPE Week via The Lohud Yankees Blog.
The New York Yankees are proud to announce details regarding their 2010 HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), a unique week-long community program that will bring to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.
Initiated in 2009, HOPE Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture.
Each day from Monday, August 16, through Friday, August 20, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Though each day’s celebration will culminate at Yankee Stadium, outreach will often take place away from the Stadium, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals and highlight their success.
A unique aspect of HOPE Week is that every player on the roster, as well as Manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff, will participate in the outreach for the five events.
Equally significant during HOPE Week is gaining publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.
Last year’s HOPE Week introduced fans to community heroes Marco and Jen Chiappetta and their Patchwork of Young Leaders Society. Yankees players and Girardi joined them in their home to take part in their mentoring program. The Yankees also encountered Tom Ellenson, Ranjit Seal and Melvin Williams, each of whom have overcome disabilities and serve as inspirational members of society. In addition, the organization held an anniversary celebration for George Murray, his wife, Kim, and their 4-year-old son, Trason. Murray had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and succumbed to the disease a couple of weeks after his Stadium visit. The club also hosted an overnight carnival for Camp Sundown participants, who suffer from a rare genetic disorder that does not allow them exposure to UV light.
The Yankees community initiative was recognized at the 11th Annual National Sportsmanship Awards in St. Louis in November 2009, honoring their work with Camp Sundown. Additionally, President Barack Obama officially announced the return of HOPE Week in 2010 during an April 26 White House ceremony celebrating the team’s 2009 World Series championship.
HOPE Week events and individuals will be introduced via a series of press releases prior to each day’s events. The Yankees thank DKNY, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Flyte Tyme Worldwide Transportation, Hard Rock Cafe, Kunath Signs, Legends Hospitality Management, Majestic, Modell’s, New Era, New Jersey Transit, New York City MTA, New York Stock Exchange, Nike, NYPD, Party City, Turkey Hill and Utz for their upcoming HOPE Week generosity.
Minor League Baseball: Investing in The Future
Mike Ashmore, the Trenton Thunder’s excellent beat writer, released an excellent article about the life of a minor leaguer. It is truly one of the better and more interesting articles I have read in a very long time. If anything is a must read, this is it. The article is quite long, but more than worth the read. Ashmore reveals many aspects that people just really do not know about minor league baseball and how it is far from glamorous. I cannot stress this enough, it is a must read.
It’s no secret that Curtis Granderson has yet to live up to expectations this year with the Yankees. He has only managed to put up a .243 AVG and a .325 wOBA. Still, Granderson is far from a lost cause. At age 29, Granderson is still very much in his prime years, and the Yankees will have him under contract through the 2013 season. If Granderson start to produce more consistently and keep it up for the next few years everybody will forget about his first 89 games in pinstripes in which he struggled. Still, why has Granderson had such a poor year? Advanced statistics don’t really offer any clue into why Granderson has failed to hit well this year, but hitting coach Kevin Long is confident that he can get the Yankee center fielder going in the right direction.
Kevin Long and Curtis Granderson are working on what Long calls a “total reformation of the swing”. Who knows, maybe it could result in Granderson feeling comfortable at the plate and starting to really produce. It may be unorthodox to work on such a major change in the middle of a season (Kevin Long revamped Nick Swisher’s swing last year, but in the offseason), but the Yankees feel it is the right move. This past Tuesday and Wednesday Granderson did not start in the Yankees’ games because he had just begun working on the swing revamp. However, Granderson did start in yesterday’s game and his new swing was on display. It may not have been that noticeable, but Granderson was more quiet in his batting stance and his hands were held in a different position compared to his old batting stance. Obviously one game is not nearly enough to judge him on, but Granderson did well yesterday with his new approach in action. Curtis went 2-3 with a walk, a double, and a run batted in. Hopefully he can continue to put up similar results. Let’s get Kevin Long’s and Curtis Granderson’s take on the swing reformation.
“To do something like this, it’s a stretch. But it’s a stretch that I think is not going too far and I think he feels the same way… He’s had length to his swing for a long, long time. He’s been an all-star with length to his swing, but we’ve both decided at this point we want to shorten it as much as we can.”
“His stance is going to be a lot more square. His hands have changed their position. He’s holding on with two hands. His load to where he gets to contact, we’ve eliminated a lot of movement there. This takes time to do something like this, but we’re going to have five or six complete sessions. He did get into the game yesterday and had what I would call a pretty good at-bat.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it big changes. It’s just trying to simply things. Everything I’ve done up to this point is just trying to get to the point I want (to make contact)… and there’s always some moving parts before it. We’re just trying to eliminate some of those moving parts.”
“I’ve made changes throughout my whole career, I’ve been an unorthodox hitter. I’ve been a very routine and picture-perfect hitter as far as what everyone else is doing. And everything in between. Whenever someone says to make a change, I’ve always been a very adaptive player.”
It’s a good thing that Granderson is very accepting of the change and doesn’t even view it as a big change. Still, revamping a proven hitter’s swing in the middle of a season is a pretty big thing, but it’s great that Granderson is comfortable with it. Kevin Long has shown to really have a knack for improving hitters and I am very confident that he can improve Granderson’s swing and I won’t be surprised if he hits well from here on out. What’s your opinion? Do you think it is the right move to reform Granderson’s swing? Can he have a big turn around?
In 2007 the Yankees selected Andrew Brackman with the 30th overall pick of the MLB Draft. Brackman only fell down to the Yankees because teams were afraid to risk taking a pitcher who would need Tommy John Surgery. However, when the opportunity to land a potential ace arose, the Yankees jumped on it. In 2007 they signed Brackman to a 4 year deal which guaranteed $4.5M in addition to his $3.55M signing bonus and an automatic 40-man roster spot. Shortly after, Andrew Brackman underwent Tommy John Surgery. Brackman would not pitch again until 2009 when he struggled with the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs, as expected by a young man recovered from major surgery. A few people were actually ready to give up on the then 23-year-old with outstanding potential. However, in 2010, Brackman began the season with the Tampa Yankees but since then has been promoted to Double-A Trenton Thunder and has arguably regained his top prospect status, if you think he ever lost it.
The 6-foot-10 right-hander Brackman actually struggled a bit at the start of 2010 with Tampa, but picked it up and was promoted to Trenton in late June. Frankie Piliere of Fanhouse says that Brackman has topped out at 97 mph this year and has consistently maintained a velocity of 92-96 mph. Brackman is not an all fastball guy though. He has a swing-and-miss curveball and an average change-up which can improve. Piliere said that he has been impressed with how comfortable Brackman looks with his mechanics, even though he can struggle at times. Overall, Brackman has looked impressive this year. I highly recommend you read Piliere’s full scouting report on Brackman.
Andrew Brackman is still a couple of years, at least, from being a part of a major league rotation, but it’s hard not to be excited about what the future holds for the flame throwing giant.
The Yankees are off today but that doesn’t mean your day can be Yankee-less. There are plenty of great blogs out there which make it easy to get your Yankee fill. Let’s check out some articles worth noting in the blog universe:
- Our friend Tom of Friday Nite Yanks has a poll up asking Yankee fans which recent pickup they think will be most influential. I recommend that you vote and check out the results to see what fellow Yankee fans think.
- Over at his blog, Curtis Granderson wrote about A-Rod and his 600th home run. Here’s some of what Curtis had to say about Alex: ”He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. His drive and passion to win are above any individual accomplishments he could achieve. On top of all that, he is an amazing teammate.” I highly recommend that you check out everything Curtis had to say, it is really nice. I also recommend you regularly read his blog, if you do not already do so.
- We all know Derek Jeter is not having a great season. He gets overlooked because he is Derek Jeter, but recently some blogs have been taking a deeper look at Jeter and while I may not agree with everything I definitely share some of the same opinions. Remember, some of these written prior to Jeter’s four hit game so don’t take game into consideration, not that one game matters that much anyway.
With the 2010 Trading Deadline in the rearview mirror, we can finally stop listening to the latest rumors and actually think about the trades which were made. This year, many teams seemed to be very active in the trade market, including the Yankees. We all know that GM Brian Cashman tried very hard to acquire Cliff Lee and later Dan Haren. But when those two trades didn’t work out, I for one didn’t expect the Yankees to make any more moves until after the Trading Deadline. However, Cashman had other ideas. The Yankees would acquire Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and finally, Kerry Wood while not giving up too much. In total, the Yankees gave up Mark Melancon, Jimmy Paredes, a player to be named later, $4.8M, and another $0.5M or 2 organizational (it’s the Indians’ choice). Let’s take a deeper look at the players that the Yankees acquired and see how each individual improves the team.
Ever since Nick Johnson hit the DL, the Yankees have not really had a regular DH. Lance Berkman now helps fill that hole. Lance Berkman can fill in a first base occasionally if needed, but expect him to be the regular DH when the Yankees are facing right-handed pitchers. When the Yankees face lefties there is a good chance Berkman takes the bench and Marcus Thames gets the start as the DH (even though Berkman is a switch hitter, he isn’t that great against lefties). This DH platoon would be pretty impressive. Let’s take a look at each players’ splits.
In his career against righties, Berkman has a .304 AVG, a .425 OBP, a .584 SLG, and a .425 wOBA. Pretty impressive, huh? This year, his numbers are down a bit across the board, but they are still good. Against righties this year Berkman has a .256 AVG, a .390 OBP, a .471 SLG, and a .377 wOBA. If he could put up those numbers with the Yankees, they would be more than happy. So, we’d have to expect that Berkman will be the regular DH versus right-handed pitchers.
When the Yankees face left-handed pitchers, Marcus Thames will probably be the DH. In his career he has a .261 AVG, a .335 OBP, a .509 SLG, and a .361 wOBA. This season Thames has only had 54 ABs against lefties so it’s hard to judge him based on that but he has put up a .315 AVG, a .406 OBP, a .426 SLG, and a .373 wOBA.
So acquiring Lance Berkman allows the Yankees to utilize Marcus Thames’ strength better and play him only against lefties which in turn allows the Yankees to utilize Berkman’s strength and only play him against righties. This way the Yankees now have a very good DH made of two players.
We all know the Yankees bullpen hasn’t been too stellar this year. Outside of Mariano Rivera, pretty much everyone has been inconsistent. David Robertson has been very good lately, and I fully expect Joba Chamberlain to start putting up good numbers again. Still, another bullpen piece couldn’t hurt. Enter Kerry Wood. You may remember Wood since his phenom starter days with the Cubs, unfortunately he was never able to live up to the expectations due to injuries. The Cubs eventually moved Wood to the bullpen where he put up very good numbers. The Indians acquired Wood in 2009 and he put up okay numbers. This year Wood has not been that good and he is coming off an injury. So Wood is kind of gamble, but the Yankees basically gave up nothing to get him and he could pay great dividends. Imagine a Yankee bullpen where Wood becomes a reliable eight inning guy, Joba figures his stuff out and has the 7th inning covered up, and David Robertson continues his success. I’m not saying that will all happen, but it could. I love the move to bring in Kerry Wood.
The Yankees acquired Austin Kearns because they had a lefty heavy outfield and were afraid to put Marcus Thames in the outfield. In Kearns they get someone who is a very good defender (8.5 career UZR/150 in the OF) and is not a bad hitter. Kearns has a .272 AVG this year with a .354 OBP and a .343 wOBA. If he can maintain that he will prove to be a great pickup. I would expect to see Kearns play against lefties occasionally probably getting starts in left field with Gardner moving to center field and Granderson moving to the bench. Hopefully a few days off against lefties here and there doesn’t hurt Granderson’s production. Still, I like the move to acquire Kearns.
Overall Grade: A-
I give Brian Cashman and the Yankees a A- for their efforts prior to the Trading Deadline. They improved the team while giving very little in return, what’s there not to like? How would you grade the Yankees pickups?
Check this out if you don’t already know about wOBA and want to learn more.