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Free Agent Spotlight: Mike Cameron

December 10, 2009 5 comments

We move from the topic of pitchers on to outfielders, which believe it or not, is still a team need. Mike Cameron, 36, is one of the best available outfielders not named Bay or Holliday.
You might be wondering why the Yanks need another outfielder even though they just got Curtis Granderson. Well, with Granderson, we now have four outfielders; Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Granderson. Many people are anticipating the resigning of Johnny Damon. And with this, many people anticipate the trading of Nick Swisher. Which leaves us with a very good centerfielder, a decent corner outfielder in Cabrera, a fast outfielder who needs to improve his hitting, and an aging corner outfielder with no arm. Our minor league outfielders could be drafted away from us, as Shelley Duncan and John Rodriguez are expected to be drafted in the Rule 5. So we’re left with Colin Curtis, and newly signed Jon Weber and Eladio Moronta as our backups in case of injury/other needs.

photo from Sports Illustrated

Cameron has always hit for a low average and many strikeouts, but he is a perfect middle-bottom of the order hitter because of his power and speed. He hit just .250 last year but hit 25 home runs and 70 RBIs (and his home was Miller Park, typically a pitchers park). Though his speed has been decreasing over the years, he can still cover the outfield and still has a great arm, which would make his transition to a corner spot (most likely left because of said speed, and Melkys cannon for RF) much easier. He has 3 gold gloves under his belt, most recently in 2006.
Cameron would be a great fit in New York for several reasons. We know he can handle the New York media, as he spent 2004-05 with the Mets without any controversy (many remember him for his nasty collision with Carlos Beltran, breaking several bones in his face and causing him to miss the rest of the season). Second, he hits well against AL East teams for the most part in his career; 10 HR 26 RBI vs Boston, 3 HR 23 RBI vs Baltimore, 6 HR 27 RBI vs Toronto, and 5 HR 22 RBI vs Tampa Bay. Remember, his six full seasons in the AL were with Seattle and Chicago, who would face these teams a max of 10 times a year.

Scenarios with Cameron:
– Damon signed, Swisher traded for starter/reliever/minor leaguer. Cameron takes 6 or 7 spot in order and takes over RF/LF
– Damon not signed, Swisher stays- Cameron bats in front of Swisher because of speed and better clutch hitting; Swisher becomes everyday DH with ability to start in the OF when needed.
– Damon signed, Swisher kept- Cameron becomes everyday outfielder, Swisher and Damon must fight for DH job, one of the two rot on the bench, until Swisher/Cabrera traded before deadline

If the Yankees sign him, look for a 2-year, $17 MM deal.
Cameron has said that he wants to play for a team with a chance at the postseason, let’s see if the Yankees make a run at him.

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Interview with Chad Jennings

December 9, 2009 2 comments


Chad Jennings is a former beat writer for the AAA Scranton Yankees. He took over as a Yankees beat writer in October and has agreed to do a quick interview with The Pinstriper. We thank him for the interview. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out his work here!

1. Thoughts on the Curtis Granderson trade? Who got the best of it?

I think every team got what it wanted. Granderson is a great fit for the Yankees. They gave up some real talent to get him, but that’s what it was going to take for an impact player like that. I think some people are getting a bit too caught up in his splits. They’re bad, and they’re a factor in judging him as a hitter, but at the end of the day he’s consistently hit 20+ home runs with 70+ RBIs while playing good defense in center field. He’s also young and signed to a good contract.

2. Can you profile Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for us?

Jackson is going to be an everyday center fielder, but his lack of power suggests he’ll be more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter. He could develop more power and become more of an impact bat — wouldn’t surprise me, actually — but right now he’s a guy with a little bit of speed who hits for a high average despite striking out a lot. He’s also a good defensive player in center field. Kennedy started throwing a two-seam fastball during the Arizona Fall League and his curveball has improved since his bad 2008 stint in New York. It’s easy to overlooked that he’s been absolutely dominant in the minor leagues and that he pitched very well in the big leagues when he was first called up in late 2007. He throws strikes — quality strikes — and that makes him a good pitcher.

3. Any idea who the Yankees might want in the Rule 5 Draft? What position?

Can’t figure it out, to be honest. Infield makes no sense because the 40-man is already packed with utility candidates, I can’t imagine the Rule 5 providing a better backup catcher than Francisco Cervelli, and if the Yankees wanted a power arm, why not protect Grant Duff or Kevin Whelan? There are a few right-handed hitters available who can play the outfield and also have experience at catcher. I wonder if that might work for the Yankees, giving them a little bit more outfield depth — which they need — as well as a spare catcher for days when Cervelli is behind the plate and Jorge Posada is the DH.

4. Any idea of any players that might be taken from the Yankees?

I think Zach Kroenke will be taken, I think Kevin Whelan should be taken and I think Colin Curtis might be taken. There are other candidates — Jason Hirsh, George Kontos, Grant Duff, Alan Horne — but I tend to think Kroenke, Whelan and Curtis are the guys most at risk of being taken.

5. Do you think the Yankees need to improve the bullpen at all or they are good as it is?

I don’t think they have to make a bullpen move, partially because I think they’ll sign Andy Pettitte plus one more starting pitcher. That could leave either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain to return to the eighth inning (I still think they should both be starters, but that’s a whole other issue). David Robertson and Mark Melancon are also legitimate options for high-leverage bullpen roles. And you never know what young starter they might convert to the pen. If they were willing to move Hughes, they’re willing to move anyone, and guys like Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister might work well in that role. You never know.

6. Is Zach Kroenke an MLB option at this point? Was he part of the reason they were willing to trade Coke?

I think Mike Dunn was the reason the Yankees were willing to trade Coke. After last year, it’s hard to believe the Yankees see Kroenke playing a role in the big leagues. Kroenke was terrific in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year. When he didn’t get a shot then, and when he wasn’t added to the 40-man this winter, it became obvious that the Yankees don’t view him as much of a major league option. I hope he’s taken in the Rule 5 because he deserves a shot.

7. If you had to predict the rotation for next year what would it be?

Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain

I think they’ll bring someone else in to compete, but unless that person is Ben Sheets or Rich Harden, I think it’s entirely possible that Hughes and Chamberlain will outpitch the new competition and win the job.

8. The outfield? What could Melky Cabrera net in a trade and are the Yankees definitely more willing to trade him rather than Brett Gardner?

The short answer is, I have no idea. Cabrera is an enigma on the trade market. He’s still cheap and he’s coming off a nice year, but is his trade value that of a starting center fielder or a fourth outfielder? Everyone seems split on the way they ultimately view him. As for which one I would trade, it’s no secret that I really like Gardner, but I’m not sure it makes sense to have two left-handed center fielders.

*Interview conducted by Brandon of The Pinstriper and Chad Jennings of the Lohud Yankees Blog*

GAME RECAP: WORLD SERIES GAME 2

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Burnett & the long ball help even out the series for the Yanks

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 3 PHILLIES 1 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 2nd: Raul Ibanez hits a 2-out double to left field. Matt Stairs singles on a sharp ground ball to left field, Ibanez scores (NYY 0, PHI 1)
  • Bottom of the 4th: Mark Teixeira homers to right center field (NYY 1, PHI 1)
  • Bottom of the 6th: Hideki Matsui homers on a golf shot to right field (NYY 2, PHI 1)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Jerry Hairston and Melky Cabrera begin the inning with back to back singles. Brett Garner comes in to pinch run for Hairston. Jorge Posada pinch hitting for Molina hits a single to center field. Brett Gardner scores (NYY 3, PHI 1)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • AJ Burnett: 7 innings, 4 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1.29 ERA
  • Pedro Martinez: 6 innings, 6 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, 2 BB, 8 SO, 4.50 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: AJ Burnett pitched a gem through 7 innings of work, Teixeira and Matsui provided the bulk of the offense with 2 homeruns, Mariano closed out the game with a 6 out save.

COMMENTARY: During his pregame conference AJ Burnett talked about not being so careless “just throwing balls over the middle to get strike one”. You have to give it up to AJ because that is exactly what he did, throwing 1st pitch strikes to 21 of the 26 batters he faced. It was a coming out party for Burnett who had yet to record a win, or a loss for that matter, in the postseason. Prior to this start there were a lot of questions about Burnett’s ability to handle the big stage, specially given his rocky start in the close-out game of the ALCS series and the pressure of securing a win after a Sabathia loss. No doubt, AJ answered his critics.

He was dealing throughout the night, ringing up 9 batters and out-pitching Pedro to rack up a win in his first World Series start. The Yankees offense was subdued to start the night until Teixeira hit a long shot to right center field to tie the game at the bottom of the 4th inning and later in the 6th Matsui hit a golf shot to right field to give the team a lead they would not relinquish. Burnett’s 7 innings of solid work also allowed Girardi to set aside the nowhere bridge to Mariano Rivera and get Mo to close out the game with a 6-out save.

AJ’s performance in game 2 of the World Series is another reminder that everyone in this team contributes to its success and you may not now who will provide the next stellar performance of the series.

GAME RECAP: ALCS GAME 4

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Sabathia and A-Rod combine to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the ALCS

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 10 ANGELS 1 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 4th: Robinson Cano reaches on a fielder’s choice, Alex Rodriguez beats Howard Kendrick’s throw to home and scores. Jorge Posada to 3rd (NYY 1, LAA 0)
  • Top of the 4th: Melky Cabrera singles on a ground ball to left field (breaking an 0-26 slump by the Yankees with RISP) Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano scores (NYY 3, LAA 0)
  • Top of the 5th: After a Mark Teixeira single, Alex Rodriguez homers to left field (NYY 5, LAA 0)
  • Bottom of the 5th: Kendry Morales homers to left center field (NYY 5, LAA 1)
  • Top of the 8th: Johnny Damon homers to right field. Melky Cabrera who had walked earlier in the inning scores (NYY 7, LAA 1)
  • Top of the 9th: Alex Rodriguez doubles to begin the inning. Jorge Posada flies out to right field. Alex Rodriguez scores. Throwing error by right fielder Bobby Abreu (NYY 8, LAA 1)
  • Top of the 9th: Robinson Cano walks. Brett Gardner singles to center field. Melky Cabrera doubles to right field. Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner scores (NYY 10, LAA 1)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • CC Sabathia: 8 innings, 5 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR, 1.13 ERA
  • Scott Kazmir: 4 innings, 6 hits allowed, 4 earned runs, 4 BB, 3 SO, 9.00 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: CC Sabathia gives the Yankees an 8-inning stellar performance on three days’ rest. Alex Rodriguez goes 3-for-4 with 2 RBI, 1 HR, 3 RUNS.

COMMENTARY: Before the start of game 4 of the ALCS, the Fox telecast played a video montage of the first 3 games of the series. As the short piece draws to an end Joe Buck, who’s narrating, poses the following question: “so, has momentum shifted to the Angels, or will CC ease the mind of Yankee Nation” as they pan to an image of Joe Girardi in the dugout. The question, to put it more plainly was whether Sabathia could bail out Girardi after his questionable pitching change in the bottom of the 11th inning of game 3. CC not only bailed out his skipper but put the Yankees in a great position for the rest of the series and perhaps the rest of the playoffs.

Sabathia was dominant throughout the game, his demeanor and approach was that of a man who has supreme confidence in his stuff and cherishes the challenge of pitching with less than optimum rest. His 8 innings gave the bullpen a needed rest which means that everyone in the bullpen ready to close out this series. In CCs two starts in the ALCS Girardi has only used 2 pitchers in relief, compare that with a total of 14 pitchers during the prior 2 games.

The Yankees were also able to liven up their bats. From the onset it was clear that they intended to be aggressive on the bases and press the issue against the Angels. A two-out single by Melky Cabrera got the Yankees off of a 0-for-26 slump with runners in scoring position. Everyone but Swisher and Matsui had at least one hit, including Gardner’s pinch hit in the top of the 9th. But the offensive story of the night was Alex Rodriguez. I hesitate to say anything about what he has done this postseason so I won’t , I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves 3-for-4, with 2 RBI, 1 HR (he has now hit 1 HR in the last 3 games), and 3 Runs Scored.

Breaking News: Shelley Duncan Promoted to the MLB

September 7, 2009 2 comments

Shelley Duncan has been called up to the Yankees. It is unknown when he will arrive. This will allow the Yankees to give more players rests AND not use Eric Hinske as much. Also, Brett Gardner has been activated and is in the game one starting lineup.

Here is the lineup:

1. Jeter SS
2. Swisher RF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Rodriguez 3B
5. Cano 2B
6. Posada C
7. Hinske DH
8. Cabrera LF
9. Gardner CF

As of now I’m thinking Shelley will be brought back next year in a Hinske type role if he plays well enough. SWB is messed up right now, as they have no good hitters or pitchers at this point. Gotta feel bad for John Rodriguez as he has stated it is his dream to play in the Bronx. Similar #’s to Shelley, but no need for two of them. Likely won’t reach that dream.

Yankees Have a Move to Make

July 27, 2009 2 comments

Brett Gardner was placed on the 15-day DL today with a broken thumb. Jon Albaladejo was called up to take his place. Tomorrow the Yankees will call up an OF from Scranton to replace Gardner….but the question is….WHO?

The only CF option is highly-touted prospect Austin Jackson, who Joe Girardi said will NOT be called up.

That leaves Shelley Duncan and an injured John Rodriguez. Ramiro Pena is also an option having played a few games in CF at AAA.

Prediction: Shelley Duncan called up and Yankees move Xavier Nady to 60 day DL

What I want done: Shelley Duncan and Ramiro Pena called up, move Nady to 60 day and Designate for Assignment Cody Ransom. Pena can play CF when completely neccessary and so can Nick Swisher.

P.S.: Chad Jennings, who covers the Scranton Yankees, has agreed to answer 10 questions for me through email. He will be the first person to be a part of my 10 question segment. I should have the interview up by Tuesday.