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Morning Bits: New signings, Forbes list, Brackman, Joe Torre

Good Morning all.  We are now one day away from learning what is going to happen with Nakajima.  Mainly by now we are lead to believe that the sides aren’t close and nothing is going to happen but you never know.

Let’s get right to the links….

* Yankees sign three new players to a minor league deal.

* Yankees soar on Forbes most valuable list.

* Former Yankee Andrew Brackman signs with Cincy.

* Joe Torre is aspiring to complete rare baseball trifecta.

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Morning Bits: Cashman, Brackman, Granderson, Martin, Gardner

Lots of Yankee rumblings yesterday please scan down the page to catch up on all that you may have missed.  Now on to the morning links…

Cashman is back for three more years.   Pretty much everyone saw this coming.

— Yankees released Brackman yesterday who was a 2007 draft pick.

Granderson’s Grandslam leads MLB stars to win in Taiwan series.

— Cashman talks Martin and compares him to former great catcher Thurman Munson

— Yankees interest quickly cools on C.J. Wilson.

— Gold Glove voters miss out on Brett Gardner.

Cashman says he will focus on pitching in the off-season.

Enjoy the day everyone.

Grading 2011 and Looking Ahead: Bullpen

Mariano - The Greatest just keeps on going

The last part of the team we’ll look at is the bullpen. This was the strongest unit on the team as the pen led the American League with a 3.12 ERA, and was 2nd in OPS against (.677) and K/9 (8.46).

Mariano Rivera

He just keeps rolling along. Another year with a sub-2.00 ERA, his 4th in a row and 8th time in last 9 years.  Mo was consistent all season and finished with 44 saves in 49 chances to break the All-Time record for most career saves with 603.  The Sandman had a 1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and a ridiculous 7.5 strikeout to walk ratio.  While he doesn’t throw as hard as he did when he was 27, his velocity was actually his highest since 2008 averaging 92.3 on his FB and 91.6 on his Cutter.   Grade:  A

2012 Outlook:  He is signed for one more yr @ $15M and will turn 42 in a month.  We all know he has to fade at some point but until he does he’s welcome as my closer for as long as he wants to pitch.

David Robertson

Maximum extension & follow through is how a 5'11, 180 pounder can blow Fastballs by MLB's best hiters

Robertson began the yr as the man Girardi used in the middle innings to get out of jams.  He did so well in that role he was the natural guy to take the 8th inning role after injuries to Joba & Soriano.  DRob flourished in that role the way he did in every situation Girardi used him in.  He led A.L. relievers in ERA (1.08) & K/9 (13.5) as he used his sneaky Fastball and knee-buckling Curveball to get big outs whenever he needed them.  His only blemish is he still walks a lot of hitters (4.7 BB/9) but makes up for it by getting strikeouts whenever he needs them and inducing a lot of groundballs.  He saw a big 7% increase in his GB rate and his velocity was up 1.2 mph to an average FB of 93.1 MPH.  Robertson showed a filthy Changeup and Cutter at times but his FB/Curve combo is so dominant he rarely needs his 3rd and 4th pitches.  Grade: A+

2012 Outlook: Robertson was one of the best bargains in baseball at $462,450 in 2011.  He’ll see a raise to around $1.5-2M in his first yr of arbitration in 2012.  He’ll have to be in the 8th inning role again and heir to the closers role if Mo ever retires.  With his 4 nasty pitches one can’t help to imagine DRob throwing 200+ IP as a starter but with his max effort delivery and small frame he may be best suited as a 1-2 inning guy.

Rafael Soriano

Didn’t look right in beginning of yr and soon went down with arm injury.  After nearly 3 months on the DL was much better when he returned in August. Finished with 4.12 ERA in just 39.1 ip.  His K rate (8.2) was the same as his dominating 2010 yr in Tampa but his Walk rate more than doubled to 4.1.  Grade: C-

2012 Outlook:  He has an opt-out he won’t exercise so will be back for $11M to pitch the 7th Inning.  Hopefully he will get comfortable in the role as the highest paid middle reliever in MLB. He has the stuff and track record to give the Yanks a shutdown 7th thru 9th inning unit.

Boone Logan

Logan was off to a lousy start through April & May then he lowered his arm angle a little and things turned around for him. After striking out just 7 in his first 13 innings he K’d 39 in his final 28 innings to finish the yr 5-3, 3.46 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9.  He was fairly good against lefties but was prone to HRs vs them with a 1.32 HR/9 vs them and 0 HRs vs Righties.  Grade: B

2012 Outlook:  In his 3nd yr of Arbitration he’ll get a small raise on his $1.2M salary and be back in his lefty relief role.

Luis Ayala

Ayala was  a nice find and had a surprising season although he pitched to a lot of luck.  He had a tidy 2.09 ERA but a 4.19 FiP.  He’s not a strikeout pitcher (6.2 k/9) but induced a lot of grounders (50% GB rate) and gave the team 56 quality IP.  for $650,00.  Grade:  B

2012 Outlook:  He was solid but I doubt he’ll be back as the Yanks are loaded with bullpen arms and could insert a younger guy with a higher upside.

Cory Wade

Wade is a feather in the cap of Billy Eppler’s pro scouting department as he was plucked off of Tampa’s Triple A team in late June and was brilliant in New York.  He finished 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA & 1.03 WHIP. While he dominated righties (.541 OPS against) his ChangeUp & Curve were also effective vs Lefties as he held them to a .730 OPS.  Grade:  A-

2012 Outlook:  Wade will definitely be back in the bullpen mix in 2012

Others:  Joba Chamberlain was pitching well with a 2.83 ERA/1.04 WHIP til he blew his elbow out.  His surgery will likely keep him from being effective until around June or later.  Hector Noesi showed some promise while riding the Scranton to NY shuttle and being moved back and forth from starter to reliever.  He may be in the mix as a #5 starter or long man in 2012.  Late inning call-ups George Kontos and Andrew Brackman will be candidates to make the pen in ST as both showed good stuff in Sept.  Cashman will look to bring in a second lefty in the Winter but other than that the bullpen appears set with almost everyone coming back and a lot of young guys looking to make the team.

  W L ERA SV IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
                       
Mariano Rivera 1 2 1.91 44 61.1 0.897 6.9 0.4 1.2 8.8 7.50
David Robertson 4 0 1.08 1 66.2 1.125 5.4 0.1 4.7 13.5 2.86
Luis Ayala 2 2 2.09 0 56.0 1.268 8.2 0.8 3.2 6.3 1.95
Boone Logan* 5 3 3.46 0 41.2 1.344 9.3 0.9 2.8 9.9 3.54
Rafael Soriano 2 3 4.12 2 39.1 1.297 7.6 0.9 4.1 8.2 2.00
Hector Noesi 2 2 4.47 0 56.1 1.509 10.1 1.0 3.5 7.2 2.05
Cory Wade 6 1 2.04 0 39.2 1.034 7.5 1.1 1.8 6.8 3.75
Joba Chamberlain 2 0 2.83 0 28.2 1.047 7.2 0.9 2.2 7.5 3.43
Scott Proctor 0 3 9.00 0 11.0 2.818 15.5 4.9 9.8 9.0 0.92
George Kontos 0 0 3.00 0 6.0 1.167 6.0 1.5 4.5 9.0 2.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

Seedling to Stars on Andrew Brackman

Seedling to Stars comes to us with many great articles on the Yankees.  Here is the latest one on Andrew Brackman. Here is a snippet of the article click the link below to read the rest of the piece…..

Many popular opinions of pitching prospects are formed from general scouting reports. While these reports are invaluable resources, they can’t always be trusted. Hundreds of minor league hurlers are credited with “mid-90′s velocity,” but very few MLB starters actually have that grade of heat, for example. It’s incredibly frustrating to hear about a pitcher with “a mid-90′s heater and plus curve,” only to have him come up to the big leagues and show a fastball that averages 90.5 mph and a slider.

When a pitcher come up to the majors, we can finally get a foolproof reading on what exactly his arsenal is comprised of, thanks to the great Pitch F/X system. In this series, I analyze just that–the “stuff” of recently-promoted MLB pitchers. Now that they’ve achieved their big league dreams and thus factor directly into the MLB picture, it’s high time that we know exactly what these guys are providing.

This time, I’m taking a look at Yankees reliever Andrew Brackman.

Formerly a top prospect, Andrew Brackman imploded in Triple-A in 2011, walking as many batters as he struck out and posting a well-deserved 6.00 ERA. The 6’11″ righthander turns 26 in December, so he’s not particularly young, and his struggles in pro ball (with the exception of a strong 2010) made many doubt whether he’d ever have a significant major league career.

Click Here to read the rest of the article.

Mailbag: Killer B’s, Logan, Hughes, Free Agency, etc…

This week’s mailbag will be broken into 2 parts with Part II being answered by Delia tomorrow. If you would like your question to be answered in the mailbag, email Mike at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com. Here we go:

@yankeesky asks: How many of the Killer Bees make the big club in 2012 ?

Which of the 3 will make the team in 2012?

Well if you are talking about Opening Day 2012, I would say zero – though all 3 should be up at various points during the season.  I would say the one with the best chance to make the team out of Spring Training is Andrew Brackman.  Not that he is the best of the 3 (quite the opposite IMO), but he’ll be 26 in December so he’s getting to the point where he needs to show some results.  And his move to the bullpen this year seems permanent which will increase his chances of making the Yankees.

Brackman’s season as a starter was a disaster as he totally lost the plate, walking 54 in 59.1 ip and allowing a .253 batting average against.  He walked 9 in his last 3 inning start on July 29th and was banished back to relieving. But something clicked in the pen as he walked only 6 in his last 20.1 ip with 17 k , a.155 batting avg against & 1.34 ERA.  So if he pitches that way in ST, he has a legitimate chance to make the team.

I expect the Yankees to go with 1 rookie starter in 2012 but the likely candidates to start the season are DJ Mitchell, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi or David Phelps.  All of these pitchers have more AAA experience than Betances & Banuelos and are further along in their development.  Betances & Banuelos both need to improve their command and overall consistency.  I expect 1 or both of them to pitch well in AAA and get called up to the Bronx some time around June or later depending on needs of the big club.

Personally, I love Banuelos.  His stuff is good enough to pitch in the AL East right now but his 4.95 BB/9 rate is far too high.  It puts unneccessary runners on base and prevents him from going deep into games.  It’s important to remember he is only 20 years old in AAA, so he is far ahead of schedule.

@djpostl asked: Is Joe Girardi functionally illiterate or does he ignore the statistics showing Boone Logan is better vs righties than lefties?

Many of Girardi’s moves leave me scratching my head and he is a hard manager to think along with at times.  In the case of Logan, I think it’s because Girardi and most teams tend to use multi-seasonal or career stats as well as in-season stats.  In-season stats can often be skewed due to small sample size and it often takes a larger view to judge trends.

This season Logan has been better vs righties but last year and for his career he is significantly better vs lefties.  His SO and Walk rates are still much better vs lefties but he has given up all 4 of his HRs this year against lefties which tilt the SLG/OPS in favor vs RHH.

Girardi has used Logan, Wade & Ayala to get the team through the middle innings til he goes to Soriano, Robertson & Mon in the 7th-9th.  Since Wade & Ayala are almost exactly neutral in their splits and Logan is a bit of an enigma, Joe would be best served just going with the hot hand rather than trying to match up lefty/righty.

Split PA K/9 BB/9 HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
 2011                  
vs RHB 60 7.4 3.4 0 2.2 .236 .300 .291 .591
vs LHB 102 11.8 2.3 4 5.2 .261 .317 .478 .795
Split PA K/9 BB/9 HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
 Career                  
vs RHB 447 5.4 4.6 13 1.2 .313 .388 .485 .873
vs LHB 482 10.2 3.3 11 3.1 .251 .321 .382 .702

@YourFaceIsThere asked: What do you think should happen with Phil Hughes in the long run?

I think the Yankees should look to trade Hughes this Winter.  I don’t see him ever being a top of the rotation starter and it seems he would be best served pitching in the bullpen.  If that’s the case he may bring more in a trade than he is worth to the team as a reliever who will make about $3M next yr in arbitration. Phil had a dominating season in 2009 out of the pen but when he starts he doesn’t bring the same velocity.

In his last few starts, he has come out very strong but loses his good fastball after the 1st or 2nd inning.  That is a big concern because when he doesn’t have his good fastball, he struggles to get by because he lacks a true swing and miss secondary pitch.   As a starter he sits 90-92, maxing 93-94, with an average curve, cutter and seldom used change.  He often gets 2 strikes but can’t finish hitters and his throwing motion prevents him from getting good downward action on his pitches so he is a flyball pitcher.

As a 1-2 inning reliever, he can sit 93-94, maxing 95-96 with a harder, sharper cutter and the average curve.  The extra 2-3 mphs on his FB & Cutter make the difference in getting strikeouts. So if he stays next yr, I’d rather see him in the pen.

@ehom87 asked: what free-agents will the Yankees go after? How would their rotation look next year?

The entire starting 8 position players will be back next year.  Posada is the only semi-regular who won’t be back but the DH spot should go to Jesus Montero with ARod & Jeter getting some time there to keep them fresh. So I don’t see the Yanks going for the big FA hitters like Pujols, Fielder or Jose Reyes.  What they do need is starting pitching.

FA LHP Mark Buehrle is a workhorse lefty in the Pettitte-mold

The starters that should interest the Yanks are CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda and possibly Japanese League pitcher Yu Darvish.  They also need to re-up with CC and possibly retain Freddy Garcia or Colon.  No matter what, they need to come up with a strong starter to eat innings and complement CC.  Wilson and possibly Darvish are quality pitchers who could fill that role while Buehrle and Kuroda are veteran pitchers who could serve as stop-gaps until next yr when a lot of quality arms could be Free Agents. Matt Cain, Jon Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shawn Marcum, etc. could hit the market.  Buehrle is a tough, durable lefty in the Pettitte-mold but would require a sizable commitment. This year will be his 11th in a row with 200+ IP and 10+ wins.

If they get CJ, the rotation would be CC, CJ Wilson , Ivan Nova, AJ Burnett and either Hughes, Garcia, Colon or a young starter like Hector Noesi, DJ Mitchell, David Phelps or Adam Warren.

If I was in charge I would do what needed to be done to get rid of AJ.  Let’s face it, no one wants a pitcher with a 19-26 record and back to back 5.27 ERAs the last 2 seasons and $33M owed to him.  The only way to move him would be to eat a huge portion of the money or to deal him for another terrible contract. Carlos Zambrano, Jason Bay, Vernon Wells, Chone Figgins type contracts.

If they could clear AJ’s rotation spot, you could keep Hughes  as your #4 or preferably get creative and look to deal for a young pitcher that could develop into a future #1/#2.  I’d love to get Gio Gonzalez but he’d be hard to get.  I’d shop a package of Hughes along with 1 of the Noesi/Mitchell/Phelps/Warren group and other prospects to see the best pitcher I could get…preferably under 30 with strikeout stuff and low HR rates.  Maybe someone like that guy from Arizona, Ian Kennedy. Doh!

Morning Bits: Montero, Brackman, Granderson

Yankees win.  How about the unusual suspects all hitting home runs in Posada, Cervelli and Gardner. A very later start and a late ending with an afternoon game scheduled for today. Look for a lot of the regulars to probably get the day off today.

Yankees Magic number to clinch the playoffs is now 20.

and here are your morning links.

* If many of you forgot Jesus Montero was nearly traded a couple of times.

* Brackman returns from early struggles and rejoins the Yankees.

* Granderson named AL player of the month for August.

AL EAST STANDINGS

EAST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10 POFF
NY Yankees 87 53 .621 - 46-26 41-27 770 562 +208 Won 6 9-1 99.9
Boston 85 56 .603 2.5 42-29 43-27 761 598 +163 Won 1 5-5 99.4
Tampa Bay 77 64 .546 10.5 38-33 39-31 598 534 +64 Lost 1 5-5 0.6
Toronto 70 72 .493 18 34-35 36-37 658 661 -3 Lost 1 4-6 0.0
Baltimore 55 85 .393 32 32-39 23-46 593 746 -153 Lost 4 2-8 0.0

Game 140 | Yankees vs. Orioles

UPDATE 6:04PM: see updates under Pregame Notes

Lineups:

Gardner LF
Jeter SS
Granderson CF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Swisher RF
Chavez 3B
Posada DH
Cervelli C

Pitchers:

Phil Hughes (4-5, 6.75) vs. Tommy Hunter (2-1, 6.75)

Pregame Notes:

— The Yankees have promoted right handers Hector Noesi, George Kontos, and Andrew Brackman, along with outfielder Greg Golson to the majors from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In addition, says Mark Feinsand, Ramiro Pena has been called up. (update: 6:11pm)

— Among the multiple transactions, Lance Pendleton has been designated for assignment. (update: 6:11pm)

— With the addition of those 3 pitchers, the bullpen stands at 9 right-handers (Rivera, Soriano, Robertson, Wade, Ayala, Noesi, Proctor, Brackman, Kontos) and 3 lefties (Logan, Valdes, and Laffey). (update: 6:11pm)

Enjoy the game.

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