Game 121: Yankees at Athletics

Here’s tonight’s starting lineup via Pete Abe:

SS Derek Jeter

LF Johnny Damon

1B Mark Teixeira

3B Alex Rodriguez

DH Hideki Matsui

RF Nick Swisher

2B Robinson Cano

CF Melky Cabrera

C Jose Molina

And on the mound (making his first start as a Yankee), Chad Gaudin

Ian Kennedy progressing

As you know Ian Kennedy had surgery to remove an an aneurysm in his arm, now Kennedy is back to throwing off a mound, albeit restricted to only fastballs and change ups. Kennedy will not return to pitching in the minors this year, but he will pitch in the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League according to the AP. Good luck to him, he could be a valuable piece of the 2010 Yankees.

You didn't forget this face, did you?

You didn't forget this face, did you?

2009 draft a success

This past Tuesday (August 18th) was the deadline for signing draft picks, and when it was all said and done the Yankees were able to sign 13 out of their top 14 picks, including the two top picks Slade Heathcott  and JR Murphy. Slade Heathcott received a 2.2 million bonus, which double the recommended amount for his slot (29th overall) by the Commissioners office, good for him. JR Murphy received a 1.25 million bonus, his slot money is about $478,000, Bud Selig can’t be happy with this. Anyway, now that Heathcott and Murphy have officially joined the Yankees, I’m sure you are wondering when they will play. Well, according to Lane Meyer Slade Heathcott is currently in the Gulf Coast League with the Yankees affiliate and he hopes to play in a game tomorrow. And according to a blog from JR Murphy’s high school will also be playing immediately in the GCL. You can learn more about Slade Heathcott here.

Johnny Damon wants to stay, Yankees to comply?

We all know that Johnny Damon ,who is a free agent after the year, wants to remain a Yankee. And according to Tyler Kepner, the Yankees are willing to resign him.

Before the season, there was a sense that the Yankees would allow Damon to move on and turn over his left-field spot to a prospect like Austin Jackson or a younger free agent like Matt Holliday. But Yankees officials seem to understand Damon’s value on the field and in the clubhouse, and now they would like him to return. When the Yankees want to keep a player and the player wants to stay, that is usually what happens.

“I don’t know where else I would want to go to,” Damon said. “Obviously, that’s not the right thing to say when you’re about ready to approach free agency, but I’m very happy with playing in New York, and my family’s happy I play for New York. There’s no bigger place to go. If you play well here, you’re going to get paid. New York has the resources.

“But we also have the chance to win every year. I don’t want to attempt to go make more money elsewhere, for more years, with a chance to be out of the race by the first of June.”

If Damon will sign a cheaper contract than the one he currently has, I think he might be the best option for the Yankees going into next year. While his defense has deteriorated, his offense and his clubhouse influence remain strong, and he would much cheaper than other options such as Matt Holliday (who I think is probably overrated), Jason Bay (who the Red Sox will want to resign), and Carl Crawford (who the Rays have an option to keep him).

Is this possible?

If you haven’t realized the type of season Joe Mauer is having, you must live under a rock. He is hitting an astonishing .383 with 25 home runs and 77 RBI’s (all this on a not so great team!). The way he is hitting right now puts him up there statistic-wise with Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and other world class hitters. Lately there has been a lot of talk about how Mauer and Teixeira are the top two candidates for MVP, if you ask me, I don’t even think it is close. With all respect to Mark Teixeira, I think if Joe Mauer doesn’t win the MVP something is seriously wrong, who cares that he is not on a great team, what control does he have over that? Just look at these two stats…Joe Mauer’s batting average is .383 as a mentioned before, that is higher than Mark Teixeira’s OBP! That means Mauer gets a hit (not a walk or anything, just a hit) more often than Teixeira gets on base (including hits, walks, and everything)! That is just amazing. The other stat I’d like to point out is WAR (wins above replacement, basically how many wins a player was able to add to his team). Mark Teixeira’s WAR for the season is 3.8, which is very good. Joe Mauer’s WAR is 6.5! Oh, and he is a catcher, and a pretty good one. Enough said.

Look at that beautiful swing.

Look at that beautiful swing.

The real deal?

You may or may not know that the Yankees have a ambidextrous pitcher named Pat Venditte down in the minors. It is not clear whether he should be considered a real time prospect or just a novelty, but anyway here is a great video about Venditte:

Melky

Sorry Melky, I had to show this.

No comment. I'll take the high road.

No comment. I'll take the high road.

Heathcott visits New York

Slade talking to reporters. (photo from PeteAbe)

Slade talking to reporters. (photo from PeteAbe)

Yesterday, Slade Heathcott who the Yankees selected in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft, made a trip to Yankee Stadium. This is his first time he has ever been in New York, and he was excited. He took batting practice in uniform with the team, “It’s pretty mind-boggling,” Slade said after hitting three home runs. He even had his own locker right next to Mariano Rivera. “I honestly believe I’m probably one of the luckiest kids in America right now,” Heathcott said. “Two days before we won state, I got drafted by the New York Yankees.” Obviously the Yankees did this in an attempt to further sway Heathcott towards signing with them. “I can either go to the best baseball school in America [LSU] or go to the best baseball franchise in history,” Heathcott said. “Hopefully something gets worked out soon, so I can get playing. I’m ready to get going either way it goes.” Heathcott is considered signable if you are wondering. So, we will just have to wait and see, hopefully he signs soon and starts developing in the Yankees minor league system.

Quotes from MLB.COM and Peter Abraham.

Slade Heathcott

Last night the Yankees selected Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. Today, I plan on giving you a little bio on him.

slade

Background

Heathcott is 6’1″ and 196 lbs. He was born on September 28 of 1990. He bats and throws with his left hand, and he is an outfielder. There is some concern about his character off the field, his father is in prison and his mother is out of his life. These are some issues, but there have never really been any reports on Slade himself doing anything horribly wrong. Look at Joba’s mother, she is a mess, and Joba did get that DUI, but overall he’s not a terrible person or anything. I’m confident that the Yankees will make sure Slade stays on the right path and they will continue to monitor him closely. Heathcott unfortunately was a Red Sox fan, but now he says he has changed his ways. “I’m a Yankees fan now. I actually was a Red Sox fan. I’ve always been a Red Sox fan since I was little and I just kept with it.” When asked if he was surprised about how the draft turned out, Slade said, “I was pretty surprised. It’s indescribable.” Heathcott also said, “I had (talked to the Yankees) quite a bit. I think it’ll be an excellent fit.” He is an aggressive player, he plays with a lot of passion and heart.

Scouting Report

Heathcott is a real athlete. He is a true physical player. He is a plus hitter who can hit for average, but he also has power to all fields which is great. In the field Slade has very good instincts which allow him to play all three outfield positions very well. He also has an above average arm because he used to be a pitcher. On the base paths Heathcott is a speedy guy. Even with ACL reconstruction surgery in November Slade continues to run exceptionally well. He has been running with a knee brace just to be safe, so you have to imagine he’ll show even more speed once that comes off. He has plus tools in every category and has the chance to develop them into 5 above-average tools at the major league level. One thing that makes him who he is, is his intesity. He plays the game with a fire.

Signability

The general thought is that he wants to play pro ball, and is signable. The Yankees will have to do all they can to sign him because after failing to sign Geritt Cole last year, they received a compensation pick which as we see turned out to be used on Heathcott. This year if they fail to sign Heathcott they will not receive a compensation pick, making it critical to sign Slade.

My Thoughts

I like the pick very much. He could turn out to be a very good player. His ceiling is something of a player like Nate McClouth with a few differences. However, he is also a risky player. All draft picks are, you just never know how they will turn out. So just remember don’t get too excited, if we ever see in in the big leagues it won’t be anytime soon because high school players typically take a long time to develop.

In the second round of the draft the Yankees selected John Murphy (76th overall). He’s a convert catcher. Very athletic. I like the pick, but I really would have liked the Yankees to pick David Renfroe (who the Red Sox ended up picking up later, 107th overall). Oh well.