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GAME RECAP: ALCS GAME 3

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The Angels beat the Yankees in walk-off fashion.

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 4 ANGELS 5 (F11th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 1st: Derek Jeters homers to left field (NYY 1, LAA 0)
  • Top of the 4th: Alex Rodriguez homers to left field (NYY 2, LAA 0)
  • Top of the 5th: Johnny Damon homers to right field (NYY 3, LAA 0)
  • Bottom of the 5th: Howard Kendrick homers to left field (NYY 3, LAA 1)
  • Bottom of the 6th: Bobby Abreu gets a 1 out single to left field, after Torii Hunter flies out to right field Vladimir Guerrero hits a 2 out homerun on a 2-2 count to even it up at 3 (NYY 3, LAA 3)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Maicer Izturis out on a sacrifice fly. Howard Kendrick scores (NYY 3, LAA 4)
  • Top of the 8th: After pinch runner Brett Gardner gets tagged out stealing second, Jorge Posada homers on a shot to center field (NYY 4, LAA 4)
  • Bottom of the 11th: After a Howard Kendrick single, Jeff Mathis doubles to center field. Howard Kendrick scores, game over (NYY 4, LAA 5)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • Andy Pettite: 6 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 4.26 ERA
  • Jered Weaver: 5 innings, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 5.40 ERA

KEY PERFORMER: Jeff Mathis, the backup catcher hit 2 doubles including the walk-off hit of the game.

COMMENTARY: The Angels had to be thinking when are we going to catch a break. After the speedy Gardner gets caught steeling 2nd base for the first out of the 8th inning, Jorge Posada responds with a long home run to center field that ties the game. In the bottom of the same inning, an overzealous Bobby Abreu gets tagged out at 2nd base trying to stretch a double into a triple. Then there was the bottom of the 10th. A throwing error by Mariano Rivera puts men on 1st and 3rd with no outs and the middle of the order coming up, but the Angels are unable to take advantage and go down on consecutive groundouts to 1st baseman Mark Teixeira.

But, after David Robertson makes quick work of the first 2 hitters in the bottom of the 11th, Joe Girardi decided to consult The Dangerous Book of Managers, how to over-manage in today’s game and figures on the statistical advantage of bringing Aceves to pitch to Howard Kendrick. The rest is history, Kendrick singles on a ground ball to center field and Jeff Mathis who has been dialed in gets his 3rd double of the series to give the Angels the win. To blame this loss on Girardi’s exploits is to ignore the missed opportunities: the Yankees went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, Teixeira who has been giving a clinic on how to play 1st base went 0 for 3 with a walk and is now batting .077 for the series, Joba Chamberlain gives up 2 hits and 1 run in a third of an inning posting an ERA of 13.50. Yet it is hard to overcome the fact that sometimes you have to ignore the numbers, as Girardi put it in his post-game conference “we have all of the matchups and all of the scouting reports. We felt that it was a better matchup for us. It didn’t work.” No it didn’t.

Too Many Pitchers?

September 20, 2009 Leave a comment

With the promotion of Ian Kennedy, the Yankees now have a thirteen man bullpen (including the injured David Robertson.)

I know this usually isn’t a problem, but do the Yankees have too many pitchers? With Alfredo Aceves, Jon Albaladejo, Ian Kennedy, Sergio Mitre, and Josh Towers all available as long relievers…can’t they let one of them go?

My solution is once again to DFA Sergio Mitre. This time I would like the Yankees to promote either Kevin Russo, or Austin Jackson.

Both are just sitting at home right now, when they could be getting a valuable MLB pennant race experience. Personally, I prefer Russo, only because they are more in need of infielders than outfielders.

Mitre is basically useless right now. Aceves has not pitched since September 14th, Kennedy needs work, and Towers has not pitched since September 12th.

They can handle losing Mitre.

A Baseball Myth?

August 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Many fans go crazy over the usage of “lefty-specialists” in baseball. This is how pitchers like Mike Stanton and Mike Myers stuck around baseball for so long. While they were great pitchers, they were often used to get certain left handed hitters out and then taken out of the game.

So lets look at certain pitchers in the game today and determine: Do matchups (righty vs. righty lefty vs. lefty etc) mean as much as people think they do?

Phil Coke:
.222 vs. left
.219 vs. right

Yes, the numbers are better vs. righty hitters. The Yankees do use Coke as a lefty specialist sometimes, but also use him as a set-up man.

J.P. Howell
.250 vs. left
.161 vs. right

J.P. Howell is not exactly a specialist for the Rays this year, as he has done long-relief and even some closing. Still, the numbers are startling.

Scott Downs
.275 vs. left
.227 vs. right

Yes, Scott Downs is a closer on the DL currently, but he has been used before to get lefties out. The numbers once again show that he has an easier time when there is a so-called “mis-match.”

Now lets look at some Yankees pitchers from the right-side. Are they better against the righties or the lefties?

Alfredo Aceves

.242 vs. right
.207 vs. left

Aceves is a long-reliever and has been lights out against teams not named Chicago. The stats show he is doing better in mis-match situations.

Brian Bruney

.324 vs. right
.205 vs. left

Bruney has been, well, horrible this season. After a semi-strong start he has absolutely faltered out of the pen. The numbers say he has still been very good against lefties, though.

David Robertson

.230 vs. right
.170 vs. left

Robertson has been used mostly in the wipe-up or 7th inning roles.

Of course, however you can make the opposite argument, that lefty-specialists DO work out, if you use the right ones.

Hideki Okajima

.159 vs. left
.288 vs. right

Pedro Feliciano

.176 vs. left
.255 vs. right

I ask you, though: Bases loaded two-outs 7th inning your team is up 1 run. Would you rather have a lefty-specialist in, or your power set-up man?

Plea to Yankees: Call up Zach Kroenke and Shelley Duncan

August 4, 2009 1 comment

Here are a few things I would like the Yankees to do

– Purchase the contract of Zach Kroenke and demote Mark Melancon. Melancon needs to pitch and it is obvious Joe Girardi is not willing to use him in pressure situations. Kroenke spot-started today and gave up 1 run on 2 hits in 5 Innings of work. He can be a long-man/lefty specialist, allowing Alfredo Aceves to work his way into the rotation, if neccessary.

-DFA Cody Ransom and re-promote Shelley Duncan. It is absoluetly pointless to have Ransom in the MLB right now and it is absoluetly pointless to have Duncan sitting in AAA. If the Yankees want a righty bat off the bench…here he is.

-Place a waiver claim on every-yes i do mean every-starting pitcher on the block. Brian Bannister, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, even Bruce Chen for all I care (just kidding about Chen…he is a perfect fit for the Royals). Anyone but Sergio Mitre.

-Trade Juan Miranda in a trade for one of these pitchers. He could be an MLB player right now for about any team. He is worthless to the Yankees, however, unless Mark Teixeira gets hurt. Even then, the Yankees have Shelley Duncan. It is also for the better of Miranda’s career, even though he is on the Yankees 40-man roster, he is very unlikely to get playing time with the Yankees. With Jorge Vazquez waiting in AA for the AAA promotion….it’s a perfect time to use him for trade bait.

-For now, DFA Sergio Mitre and purchase Josh Towers‘ contract. Towers has reached his peak in AAA (like Mitre did) and is now ready to give it a shot in the MLB. If they don’t want to do this, why not give Kei Igawa a shot? Yes, I am being serious. If you are going to spend all this money to have him…why not make him useful? He has reached his prime in AAA, also, and he could possibly help out the club in some way.

For all the Yankees fans reading this- I ask you to remember one thing. Austin Jackson was the price for Jarrod Washburn. Austin Jackson is also a top, top prospect. If it will take Austin Jackson to get any of the pitchers I mentioned above…don’t do it.

10 Questions with Scranton W/B Yankees Beat Writer Chad Jennings

July 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Chad Jennings is the beat writer for the Scranton W/B Yankees. He was kind enough to answer 10 questions for me. Here is the interview:

1. Out of all the players in AAA this year….who has impressed you the most? Who has dissapointed you the most?

Chad Jennings: Austin Jackson has probably impressed me the most. For a guy his age to hit like this in the International League is pretty amazing. He’s also a lot faster than I expected, and he uses his speed well on the bases and in the outfield. He’s terrific driving the ball to the opposite field. Kevin Russo, Shelley Duncan and Zach Kroenke deserve some honorable mention here. I guess there’s some disappointment in the way Doug Bernier and Justin Leone have struggled. Great guys, both of them, but the bat just hasn’t been there all season. Eric Duncan has really struggled, too.

2. Do you see Shelley Duncan as a capable MLB every day player, or just another AAAA player?

CJ: I absolutely see him as a capable MLB everyday player. I would love to see what would happen if a big league team stuck with him for a season. He would strikeout quite a bit, but he could be a 35 home run guy. And if he got himself locked in, he could be really valuable.

3. Can you give us some information on Zach Kroenke?

CJ: Lefty. Low 90s with his fastball. Mixes a slider and splitty, using both as an outpitch. He’s not a huge strikeout guy, but he doesn’t allow many hard-hit balls. And he comes from a major college program at Nebraska. There’s talent there, it’s just a question of how much the other pitchers in the system have him overshadowed.

4. The AAA Yankees got off to an 11-0 start this year and are currently the 2nd best team in the IL winning-percentage wise. Who would you attribute this to the most? The players? The manager?

CJ: I think there’s a lot to be said for this coaching staff. The Yankees have been one of the best teams in the league each of the three years they’ve been in Scranton, and that’s happened with constantly shuffling rosters. Dave Miley and Butch Wynegar really know what they’re doing and the pitching coaches the past three years — Dave Eiland, Rafael Chaves and Scott Aldred — have track records that speak for themselves. Aaron Ledesma has been a great addition this season. That staff has helped create a loose, easy going clubhouse. In the end, though, I think it falls on the players. These guys have largely bought into the idea of winning being important, even at this level, and I think that’s helped.

5. After seeing the whole Tony Bernazard and Binghamton Mets story play out and the Mets be repeatedly chastised for their lack of depth how do you feel the Yankees are at the same thing? Do you feel they have good enough depth in the system?

CJ: For the most part, yes. The Triple-A roster has long-term and short-term solutions in the infield, outfield and catcher. The relief depth is such that it’s been hard to get everyone innings. The starting pitching depth has dwindled considerably, but that’s only after a ton of injuries and just-for-now bullpen conversions. It’s deep enough to fill some holes.

6. How is the Redsox farm system this year?

CJ: I don’t really follow it too closely. I know Lars Anderson hasn’t been too good, but Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard are legit. Junichi Tazawa looks like a solid signing, as well.

7. Who would you say is the best prospect you’ve seen this year (Yankee or non-Yankee) and do you feel he has lived up to the hype?

CJ: I missed a lot of them. Didn’t get to see Gordon Beckham or Tommy Hanson or Andrew McCutchen. I did see Matt Wieters, and what struck me was his size and athleticism. He looks like an NFL tight end. He just looks like a better athlete than everyone else. I also thought Michael Bowden looked good against the Yankees. He’s really boosted his stock the past year or two.

8. Is Kei Igawa just another minor-leaguer?

CJ: Maybe. I think Kei can get big leaguers out, but when he makes a mistake, it gets crushed. And it’s tough to learn anything new from watching him pitch in Triple-A. He’s been good at this level for three years now. He seems to be better at keeping the ball down this year, but I have no idea if that will be enough to make a significant difference at the big league level. He’s had Triple-A success in the past but not been able to carry it to New York.

9. Give us a background on Austin Jackson?

CJ: It seems most people know that he was a terrific athlete in high school who turned down a basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech, but when Tyler Kepner wrote about him in the Times, Kepner wrote about the batting cage that was in Austin’s backyard as a kid. The idea of him as a terrific athlete who just happens to be playing baseball is false. He’s always been a baseball player, he was just too good of an athlete to focus on one sport in high school. He’s doing that now and he seems to be getting better and better. Plus, he’s a good guy. He seems to work hard and his teammates seem to really like and respect him. There’s been a lot of buzz about him this season, but Austin has handled it as well as possible.

10. Last question: Give us one story that you find interesting in your time covering the Scranton Yankees?

CJ: Hard to pick one. The first that comes to mind is a story I’m working on right now about Shelley Duncan’s personality. There’s a lot more depth to him than most people realize.

I liked writing about Cody Ransom this season, simply because I like it when long-time minor league guys get a real shot in the big leagues. Cody’s not an everyday player, but I think he’s fine in that utility role and I think there are a lot of guys like him who could play a role in the big leagues if given a shot. Dan Giese did it last year. Chris Coste during the Red Barons years. Nick Green’s doing it with Boston. I’ve also really enjoyed all the random big leaguers pulled out of obscurity — Edwar Ramirez and Alfredo Aceves especially — because we all spend a ton of time reading about “prospects” but there are always guys completely off the radar who can make a surprising run to the majors. Covering last year’s playoffs was fun because there were so many walk-off wins and tide-turning moments.

Thanks to Chad for answering the questions and also to Mike Ashmore for answering his questions!