• Eric Chavez: Yankees Should Be Very Concerned

    Posted by on August 8th, 2012 · Comments (26)

    Via Wally Matthews

    The New York Yankees now have lost seven of their past 10 games, 12 of their past 18 and 13 of the 24 they have played since the All-Star break.

    They have seen their lead in the American League East shrink from a high of 10 games on July 18 to where it sits right now, a mere 4½ games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles — their narrowest lead since June 29.

    After three months of playing without their closer, six weeks without their No. 2 starter and two weeks without their starting third baseman, they are beginning to show signs of fraying at the edges.

    While they are in no danger of missing out on the postseason, there is no guarantee anymore that they will win their division and escape the crapshoot of the one-game play-in.

    And if it turns out that, once again, their division series opponent is the Detroit Tigers, you would have to call them the underdogs to advance to the AL Championship Series.

    After all, any team that has a defending AL MVP in Justin Verlander poised to start twice in five games and a looming AL MVP in Miguel Cabrera sitting in the middle of its lineup has got to be the favorite — especially based on its performance in the first two games here this week.

    No wonder Eric Chavez — one of the few productive hitters in the Yankees’ lineup Tuesday night and one of a small handful of honest voices in their clubhouse after their 6-5 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park — had this to say when asked what the level of concern around the team is right now:

    “There should be a high level of concern. Anybody who says that there isn’t is lying. You’ve just got to win ballgames, and we’re not finding a way to do that, and it should be a concern. It’s that time of the year when, yeah, it is a concern.”

    Good thing Chavez is not some almost-fifty-year old blogger who has been a fan of the Yankees for forty years. If he was, and he said something like that, people would get all over him.

    The Yankees Last 10, 20, & 30 Games

    Posted by on July 30th, 2012 · Comments (3)

    The New York Yankees record in their last 10 games is:  3-7

    And, their record in the last 20 games is: 11-9

    Lastly, in their last 30 games, the record is:  17-13

    It would be nice if they start trending in a different direction, no?

    Is CC Sabathia Cooked?

    Posted by on March 30th, 2012 · Comments (7)

    When I looked this morning, I saw that batters are hitting .298 against CC Sabathia during this spring training, to date.

    But, hey, we’re talking spring training here. And, we know that spring training stats cannot be trusted.

    However, in the post-season last year, against the Tigers, Sabathia’s WHIP was 2.08 over the three games that he pitched.

    But, hey, that’s a very small sample size. That WHIP was fashioned over 8.2 IP. And, you can’t judge a guy on a sample that small.

    Yet, over his last 9 starts of the 2011 season, Sabathia faced 268 batters and allowed a BA/OBA/SLG line of: .314/.358/.502 (in 60.6 IP). And, that’s not pretty.

    So, add it all up: His last 9 starts of 2011, his 2011 post-season, and, his 2012 spring training. The result is less than “ace” stuff, no?

    Still, overall, you cannot count out Sabathia based on these three pieces of the puzzle.

    I would wait and see what his ERA is this season on May 1st before making any serious calls for concern.

    The Bartolo Bubble Has Burst

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2011 · Comments (14)

    Via Chad Jennings

    Bartolo Colon hasn’t won a game since the beginning of August. He has a 5.09 ERA with a .298 opponents batting average since the all-star break, and he’s lost his past four decisions.

    The lightning might be out of the bottle.

    “When we went into this year, we weren’t sure how many innings we could get out of him,” Joe Girardi said. “There is some concern there, so we’ll continue to evaluate as we move forward… It’s location, it’s movement and it’s some velocity, as well. That’s why there are concerns.”

    Great. Colon is cooked. Sabathia cannot command his fastball. Hughes stinks and has a bad back. Burnett is Burnett. Garcia has been very hittable.

    It’s Nova and a prayer in the ALDS for the Yankees. This thing could be a three and out job for New York.

    Sabathia’s Heater Not So Hot?

    Posted by on September 21st, 2011 · Comments (4)

    Great stuff, as always, via Mark Simon

    In case you couldn’t tell from watching, the numbers show that something’s wrong with C.C. Sabathia’s fastball

    Since the beginning of August, hitters have been crushing Sabathia’s heater like few others in the major leagues.

    Overall, it’s been hit to a .408 batting average by opponents over his last nine starts. Entering Tuesday, there were only three pitchers whose fastball had been hit for a higher average in this stretch.

    The unfortunate leader happens to be Sabathia’s teammate, A.J. Burnett (.466).

    The pitch location hasn’t mattered. If the ball is in the strike zone, it’s getting pummeled. The Rays bopped Sabathia’s fastball for four home runs the last time they faced him last month (they hit five against him in the game). Since then, Sabathia has yielded only one long ball with his fastball, but he’s given up 34 other hits with it.

    Sabathia’s fastball velocity is not down at all comparatively. It’s still coming in at an average of 94.4 miles-per-hour. It’s going out at a faster velocity too, particularly when Sabathia throws it waist-high.

    Since August 1, opponents are 27-for-53 (.509 batting average, .849 slugging percentage) in an at-bat that ends with a belt-high fastball. They hit .290 against it, with a .355 slugging percentage (meaning it was mostly hit for harmless singles) prior to this slump.

    Since the velo is still there, I wonder what the issue is?  Lack of movement?  Maybe?  But, it’s probably all command.  And, maybe that’s a matter of being too strong…because of the six-man rotation and all…

    CC You Later!

    Posted by on September 16th, 2011 · Comments (12)

    Coming into this evening’s game, CC Sabathia, in his last seven starts, had an ERA of 4.34 (in 47.6 IP). During this time, he faced 208 batters and allowed a BA/OBA/SLG line of .314/.351/.518 (in those seven games). And, now, tonight, he throws another dud.

    Face it, over August and September, to date, Sabathia has pitched like a slob. And, he CC does this in October, the Yankees have zero chance at #28.

    Cervelli Has Concussion Symptoms

    Posted by on September 10th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    At first, he seemed O.K. 

    Via the Daily News yesterday –

    Francisco Cervelli has experienced his share of concussions and numerous other occupational injuries. But the Yankees’ backup catcher completed Thursday’s 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Orioles despite absorbing a hard, shoulder-to-head blow from Nick Markakis on an out at the plate in the seventh.

    “A little dizzy, but it’s OK. I’ve been hit before,” said Cervelli, who said he didn’t undergo any concussion testing after the game. “I’m ready to play tomorrow, and that’s it. Catchers gotta be tough.”

    Cervelli has suffered at least three known concussions in his career, and he’s occasionally donned an oversized “Great Gazoo” batting helmet because of them. That look also was briefly adopted and ditched by Mets star David Wright when he returned after being hit in the head by a pitch in 2009.

    “For Cervy to hang in there, he got hit pretty hard, and we’ll see how he is (Friday),” Joe Girardi said.

    But, now, via Bryan Hoch today –

    Rob Thomson just posted a new lineup minus Francisco Cervelli. Joe Girardi said Cervelli’s concussion symptoms are back and he’s being sent for an impact test.

    Updates to follow, Russell Martin is catching.

    Yikes.  Just the other day, I was reading about Drew Cumberland.  This is very serious stuff.  I hope that Cervelli is going to be O.K.

    Oh, Mo!

    Posted by on August 11th, 2011 · Comments (6)

    This is three times in the last five days that Mariano has not been Mariano.  And, that’s not good.

    The Secret Behind Bartolo Colon & Freddy Garcia’s Success

    Posted by on August 1st, 2011 · Comments (13)

    It’s who they face. Check the stats.

    To date, this season, Bartolo Colon has faced a team with a winning percentage of .500 or better in 13 games (with 11 coming as a starter). He’s thrown 69 innings in this situation and his ERA is 4.57 (when facing these teams). Over these games, he’s faced 300 batters and allowed an OPS of .797 (and 11 homeruns).

    To date, this season, Bartolo Colon has faced a team with a winning percentage less than .500 in 6 games (with 5 coming as a starter). He’s thrown 40 innings in this situation and his ERA is 1.13 (when facing these teams). Over these games, he’s faced 153 batters and allowed an OPS of .517 (and zero homeruns).

    To date, this season, Freddy Garcia has faced a team with a winning percentage of .500 or better in 13 games (with 12 coming as a starter). He’s thrown 70.2 innings in this situation and his ERA is 3.82 (when facing these teams). Over these games, he’s faced 310 batters and allowed an OPS of .797 (and 7 homeruns).

    To date, this season, Freddy Garcia has faced a team with a winning percentage less than .500 in 7 games (all as a starter). He’s thrown 46.2 innings in this situation and his ERA is 2.31 (when facing these teams). Over these games, he’s faced 185 batters and allowed an OPS of .616 (and 2 homeruns).

    If the overall numbers of Colon and Garcia look good this year, to date, it’s because they really feasted on some bad teams.

    Four Into Two, Two Into One

    Posted by on July 28th, 2011 · Comments (6)

    Look at the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers and Angels.

    Either the Yankees or the Red Sox are going to win the East. And, either the Rangers or Angels are going to win the West.

    And, most likely, it’s the two left after that who are going to fight for the A.L. Wildcard this season.

    If the Yankees don’t win the East, should they be concerned about losing the ‘card to the Rangers or Angels? What do you think?

    The Angels sort of scare me – they are 26-12 since June 13th. They are finding a higher gear. The Yankees, meanwhile, are 11-10 since July 3rd. That’s not a great pace. Texas, by the way, is 15-5 since July 4th.

    Skid In The Making, Or, Just A Blip?

    Posted by on July 8th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Don’t look now, but, the Yankees have lost 4 of their last 5 games. (Prior to this, they won 23 out of 31 games.) Could be a small hiccup. Then again, it could be that June was a fluke. What do you think?

    A-Rod’s Sore Shoulder

    Posted by on June 20th, 2011 · Comments (5)

    Via Wally Matthews

    New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has been battling a left shoulder injury of unknown severity for the past couple of weeks, an injury that may be the reason for his lower-than-average power production.

    “It’s just a small issue that only bothers him when he dives for a ball,” manager Joe Girardi told ESPNNewYork.com after having a conversation with Rodriguez shortly before Sunday’s game between the Yankees and Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

    But another clubhouse source, who asked that his identity not be revealed, acknowledged that Rodriguez has been suffering from what the source called “a strain” for several weeks.

    “He’s managing it as best as he can,” the source said.

    Girardi, however, said Rodriguez is playing with a sore shoulder, not a strain.

    “Guys are sore and a little beat up,” he said. “No doubt about it. … No, it’s not a strain.”

    Following the Yankees’ 10-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday, however, Rodriguez said his shoulder feels OK and he is getting treatment, calling it part of the normal wear and tear during a long season. He had three hits and scored three times during New York’s victory.

    “You go through regular bumps and bruises in a long season,” he said. “I think that’s just another small example of it. But for the most part, I feel pretty good.”

    He said he has been getting treatment on his shoulder for about 10 days, but called it “nothing out of the ordinary.”

    “It feels OK,” he said.

    Before Sunday’s game, he was seen with his left shoulder heavily wrapped in what appeared to be large ice packs. He also spent a long time in the trainer’s room and could be seen lifting 10 pound dumbbells under the supervision of Yankees conditioning coaches about two hours before the game.

    What a drag it is getting old.

    Jeter’s “Sore Right Calf”

    Posted by on June 13th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    I’m thinking more like an achilles tendon issue than a “sore right calf.” You don’t rush a guy – no matter what General Joe said in the post-game about the Yankees always getting a quick MRI – under the magnet for a sore right calf.

    Granderson Turning Back Into Joe Boyd?

    Posted by on June 8th, 2011 · Comments (8)

    Has anyone else noticed that Curtis Granderson is just 2 for his last 19 with 10 strikeouts in those 19 ABs? You can’t get much colder than that, right? Just a blip, or, are we looking at a June swoon for the Grandy Man?

    MLB Still Wants To Know If A-Rod Used HGH

    Posted by on June 5th, 2011 · Comments (5)

    Via Michael S. Schmidt

    Just days before the Yankees headed north from Florida to begin the 2010 season, third baseman Alex Rodriguez sat down for an interview with investigators for Major League Baseball near the team’s spring training complex in Tampa.

    The investigators, according to several people briefed on the interview, wanted to question Rodriguez about his ties to a Canadian doctor who said he had treated Rodriguez and who was under investigation by federal authorities in the United States on suspicion of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.

    In the interview, which lasted several hours, Rodriguez was emphatic: the doctor had treated him but had never given him performance-enhancing drugs.

    Fourteen months later, the investigators for baseball still have not accepted those answers as fact and are trying to determine what the doctor, Anthony Galea, might have given Rodriguez, according to several people briefed on the federal investigation.

    In recent weeks, the investigators have sought to obtain the medical records Galea kept about his treatment of Rodriguez. To date, they have been unsuccessful despite the fact that Rodriguez has cleared the way for the records to be released, according to two people with knowledge of the request.

    Galea, who was indicted in October by a federal grand jury in Buffalo on five charges that alleged he distributed performance-enhancing drugs — including human growth hormone — to professional athletes in the United States, has been in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors in Buffalo for several months, according to several people briefed on the case. The people would not be identified because the dealings between the government and Galea and his lawyers are confidential.

    A guilty plea in the case, one that would probably involve Galea’s laying out exactly what he did and did not do for the athletes, could provide baseball with its answers and would probably make clear whether Rodriguez faces any criminal exposure. Rodriguez, according to the people briefed on the case, testified in 2010 before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the case. It is not clear what his testimony was.

    Mark J. Mahoney, Galea’s lawyer in Buffalo, said he knew nothing about baseball’s efforts to gain records of Galea’s treatment of Rodriguez. Galea’s lawyer in Canada, Brian H. Greenspan, did not respond to two e-mails and a voicemail message left at his office on Sunday.

    Rodriguez’s lawyers, James E. Sharp and Jay K. Reisinger, issued a statement to The New York Times on Sunday.

    “Alex fully cooperated with Major League Baseball and federal authorities in Buffalo regarding his treatment with Dr. Galea, including granting a release of his medical records,” the statement said. “Regarding matters before the grand jury, strict secrecy rules do not permit us to comment.”

    Reisinger as a result would not say whether Rodriguez had told the grand jury if he was treated with H.G.H., or even whether Rodriguez had appeared before the grand jury.

    I wonder why “the investigators for baseball still have not accepted” A-Rod’s answers on this? Do they think he was lying? The answer has to be yes – or else why would they want more on this? And, if they find out that A-Rod did get HGH from Galea, what would they do? Would they suspend him for 50 games? What would that mean for Alex’s Hall of Fame chances? How would the Yankees react to all this?

    It’s amazing that we’re still talking about this – all these months later, huh?

    All Or Nothing Yankees?

    Posted by on May 27th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    Another gem from Katie Sharp

    The opening game of the Subway Series turned into an unlikely pitcher’s duel between R.A. Dickey and Ivan Nova, with the Mets prevailing 2-1. The Yankees suffered through another frustrating day at the plate, with just four hits and 11 strikeouts.

    If that sounds like a familiar line, you are correct. It’s the fourth time this season the so-called Bronx Bombers have been held to five hits or fewer while whiffing at least 10 times in a game.

    According to Baseball-Reference.com, never before in the last 90 seasons has a Yankee team had that many games of five-or-fewer hits and at least 10 strikeouts this early into the season (through 43 games).

    And, yet, the Yankees lead the A.L. in R/G with a mark of 5.21 R/G. Just goes to show, with these Yankees bats, it’s all or nothing…way too many times this season.

    I mean, let’s face it, without being 6-0 against the Orioles, to date, the Yankees record would be .500 on the nose…losing as often as they win. And, since April 25th, the Yankees are 15-15. Not exactly a ball of fire, eh?

    Heyman: Sabathia Seeks More Years

    Posted by on May 24th, 2011 · Comments (11)

    Click here to read the report.

    I don’t want any part of CC in 2016 or 2017.  If he thinks he can get someone else to match his Yankees salary and give him a contract that pays into 2017, the the Yankees front office should tell him what they told Jeter last winter:  Go shop yourself.

    In The Year Twenty Thirteen…

    Posted by on May 20th, 2011 · Comments (4)

    Joe Posnanski picks up where I left off in December 2010. It’s a good read.

    Yanks Brass Worried About A-Rod?

    Posted by on May 17th, 2011 · Comments (16)

    Heyman tweets this AM on A-Rod:

    Wasn’t it just like six weeks ago where everyone thought his monster Spring was leading to another MVP type season?

    Father Time Yankees Biggest Foe?

    Posted by on May 16th, 2011 · Comments (12)

    Via Steve Politi today –

    You think this episode with Posada was ugly? Flash forward to 2014 when Girardi — if he is still managing this team then — might have to deal with:

    • Derek Jeter, who if he exercises the player’s option in his new contract (and why wouldn’t he?) would be a 40-year-old likely former shortstop no longer capable of batting leadoff.

    • CC Sabathia, who hasn’t looked anything like an ace this season and whose contract runs through 2015 if he doesn’t exercise his opt-out clause after this season (and why would he?)

    • Alex Rodriguez, who is already showing signs of decline and would still have three years left on that albatross of a deal he coaxed out of Hank Steinbrenner.

    That list doesn’t even include Mark Teixeira, who has six years left on his $180 million deal. This franchise will face one land mine after another with its aging core, and it’ll be up to Girardi to find a way to keep this team from stepping on them.

    “I knew in taking this job there would come a time if I managed long enough that we would see some great Yankees retire,” he said. “And that wasn’t necessarily going to be easy.”

    Not shocking stuff here. In fact, back on December 26th, 2009, I wrote:

    The 2009 Yankees were World Champions. And, the 2010 Yankees have to be considered as contenders for the ring as well. But, come 2012, due to the age of some of their stars (like A-Rod and Jeter) and the needs that the Yankees will have at catcher, the outfield, and pitching, we could be looking at a team that is not as pretty as the one we have now in Yankeeland. And, 2012 is just 27 months away…

    Brian Cashman and company will have their work cut out for them over the next couple of seasons…building that team for 2012. Because, right now, it’s got issues and holes out the ying yang…and the ’12 season starts just about two years from now…

    Of course, the question here is: Anyone and everyone saw what was coming down the pipe for the Yankees with their aging and high-priced players. So, why didn’t the Yanks front office plan ahead and try and avoid where we are now with this team?

    Posada Throws Fit Over Batting 9th & Removes Himself From Line-up

    Posted by on May 14th, 2011 · Comments (21)

    GM Brian Cashman revealed that Jorge Posada removed himself from the Yankees’ lineup Saturday night. Posada told manager Joe Girardi he was “insulted” about hitting ninth and “threw a hissy fit,” according to Jack Curry of YES Network.

    Oh, Jorgie…


    Posted by on May 12th, 2011 · Comments (5)

    Well, this is interesting news.


    Posted by on May 11th, 2011 · Comments (14)

    Via Conor Orr

    Just as Rafael Soriano was ready to leave the clubhouse last night, he felt a horde of cameras and microphones crowding around him.

    “What did I do tonight?” he said. “I didn’t even pitch.”

    That was the point.

    When the eighth inning came last night, Soriano — the pitcher manager Joe Girardi adamantly touts as the Yankees’ set-up man — was nowhere to be found as Joba Chamberlain made his way out of the pen.

    With soreness in his throwing elbow, Soriano took the game off and will have a precautionary MRI exam on Wednesday to make sure there is nothing to the pain that started a week ago in Detroit.

    “I told (Girardi) I wanted to take off before the game,” Soriano said. “I want to make sure everything’s fine. Maybe one or two days and I’ll be back.”

    Soriano had surgery on the same elbow in 2008 as a member of the Atlanta Braves for an ulnar nerve transposition and to have a bone spur removed. He also had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2004.

    The perspective he took from those injuries was enough to motivate him to request the night off.

    “He came in today and said he was a little bit sore, so I knew I didn’t have him tonight,” Girardi said. “He saw (team physician) Dr. Ahmad (Christopher), he gets here at 6, 6:30. I knew I didn’t have him. He’s going to get a precautionary MRI. He just said he didn’t feel good today.”

    How soon until Soriano rear ends a garbage truck while getting a hummer?

    That Sinking Feeling In Yankeeland

    Posted by on May 5th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    After starting the 2011 season by winning 12 of their first 18 games, with today’s loss, the Yankees have now dropped 6 of their last 11 games. Is this the start of a major skid for New York? Or, just a bump in the road?

    My prediction? On July 1st the Yankees will be much closer to a .500 team than a .600 team.

    Of course, we’ll have to wait eight weeks to see if that comes true or not.

    Hughes Going To See A Doctor

    Posted by on April 25th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    Per Jim Baumbach:

    Phil Hughes’ bullpen session did not go well, Joe Girardi said, and he’s headed to see the team doctor.

    I would not be surprised if the doc says there’s nothing wrong with you – outside of being a dough boy.  But, I could be wrong.

    The Jeter Meter Not Jumping Much

    Posted by on April 25th, 2011 · Comments (32)

    In his last 113 games, from June 15, 2010 through April 24, 2011, Derek Jeter’s BA/OBA/SLG line is: .254/.334/.315

    Over this span, he has just 2 homeruns and 22 XBH, in total, over 464 At Bats.

    At this point, he’s not getting on base often enough to bat at the top of the line-up and he’s showing zero pop (and has no business batting in the heart of the line-up.)

    If  Jeter keeps this pace over his next 40 games, Girardi has to start batting him 8th, no?

    Scout: Jeter “Looks Done”

    Posted by on April 13th, 2011 · Comments (15)

    Via Jon Heyman

    [Derek Jeter is] hitting .206, raising concerns in the Bronx that, at the least, maybe that four-year deal wasn’t the greatest of ideas for the soon-to-be 37-year-old. Jeter has hit an inordinate number of weak grounders and has only one extra-base hit so far. He won’t admit he’s worried, but others are wondering whether his adjustments to his stride (he eliminated the stride this winter, and now it’s back occasionally) is a tipoff to troubles. But others say not to read too much into so few games and a bit of tinkering (the great Yankee Don Mattingly was famous for doing the same thing). Jeter himself said, “It’s only nine games.” Even so, the speculation persists. Jeter supporters point out he’s been through bad streaks before, sometimes when he wasn’t completely healthy. But one scout says, “He’s been tardy” (on pitches), and another flat out says, “He looks done.” That’s doubtful. But one thing’s for sure, and that’s this. “I’m done talking about it,” he says.

    Robin Yount was “done” at 37. So, maybe it’s true for Jeter too? Still, you have to give it some more time before you stick a fork in the guy.

    Is Rafael Soriano A Slacker?

    Posted by on April 6th, 2011 · Comments (20)

    Joel Sherman suggests that maybe he phoned it in last night –

    After his first meltdown as a Yankee, which led to a 5-4 Minnesota triumph in 10 innings last night, [Rafael] Soriano vanished. He never came to his locker. A flustered Yankees media relations official conceded Soriano probably dressed quickly and departed, leaving others to explain his ineffectiveness.

    This would not be quite as big a deal if Soriano’s reputation were closer to pristine. But in previous stops in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, he was known for being prickly, reclusive, determined not to be used in any way, but how he thought fit. Last year he expected, for example, to be deployed only for a full inning in save situations.

    There were members of the Rays who felt, for example, that Soriano did not invest fully when asked to pitch the ninth inning of a 3-1 deficit of Game 3 of last year’s Division Series against the Rangers. That was an elimination game.

    Thus, when his attention and fastball seem off, there is natural wonder if Soriano does not think 4-0 in the eighth inning is worth his full attention. That would have been among the questions asked had he handled last night with professionalism. Instead, he fled, leaving uncertainty if this was a singular poor effort for a talented pitcher or a bad omen for a bad actor.

    “I think he was there mentally,” said Russell Martin, among those answering questions in Soriano’s absence. “He was throwing the ball with conviction, I think.”

    What do you think?

    Jose Reyes

    Posted by on April 5th, 2011 · Comments (16)

    The other day, I thought about the potential of the Yankees having an interest in Jose Reyes once he becomes free agent this off-season. And, I almost wrote about it here. But, then I looked at Reyes’ career OBA number and the decrease in his steals, and factored in the Jeter contract, and the few places in the line-up where the Yankees could move Jeter, and I thought “Nah, there’s no chance of this happening.”  So, I said nothing and filed the thought.

    But, Allen Barra disagrees and thinks it could happen.

    I’m telling ya…if this does happen, I think I might throw up.  I really can’t stand Jose Reyes.

    Talking “Hughes MPH” For 5 Years & Counting

    Posted by on April 4th, 2011 · Comments (31)

    Great stuff from Joel Sherman today on Phil Hughes –

    Do you want the bad news or the worse news?

    Do you want to hear that Phil Hughes lacked velocity or that he compounded it by being unable to locate?

    Or do you want the really, really, really troubling news? That this has been going on for weeks. That pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Hughes already have tried a bunch of remedies throughout spring training and — as of this moment — have unearthed neither a reason why the righty has lost fastball life nor a way to solve the deficiency.

    Hughes thinks his arm swing is too long. Rothschild says that maybe more long tossing will provide a solution. Joe Girardi talks still about Hughes needing to build arm strength when we just finished that little thing called spring training which — above all else — is stretched to six weeks so pitchers can build arm strength.

    “It’s a little disconcerting, right now,” Hughes said.

    Of course it is because of the really, really, really troubling news: Hughes is not a fifth starter anymore, like at this time last year. Yes, A.J. Burnett pitched in the second slot, but in a sodium- pentothal moments Yankees offi cials would reveal it is Hughes they imagine falling in as the No. 2 man behind CC Sabathia.

    Instead, Hughes has emerged as the early No. 1 rotation head ache, wresting the crown from the reigning champ: Burnett.

    “This is going to be a concern until you see [velocity],” Rothschild said. “When you get going and start to see velocity, you can relax a little.”

    Suffice it to say, this is no relaxation moment for the Yankees. Hughes was terrible yesterday in a 10-7 Tigers victory; running scared from a fastball he rightfully had no faith in.

    He threw 40 fastballs in all — and never got a swing and miss on a single one. He hit 91 mph five times in the first inning, and then never again. He pitched mainly at 87-89 and admitted he does not locate well enough to excel at that speed. Translation: He is going to pay for more mistakes at that speed than at 91-94 mph.

    It’s amazing, but, we’ve been talking about the lack of speed on Hughes fastball, on and off, since 2007. Seriously, do a search on this blog with the terms “Hughes MPH” and you’ll see it.

    Actually, I just came across this – something I wrote back on April 3, 2008:

    In the first inning, the YES gun had Hughes at 91 MPH with his fastball. (For what it’s worth, Gameday had him at 90 MPH in the first.) And, through the fifth inning, I was still seeing 91 MPH on the heater for Phil. (Most of the time it was 91 MPH. Sometimes it was 90 MPH and other times it was 89 MPH. But, again, most of the time it was 91 MPH.)

    So, what happened to the theory that it was his leg that caused Hughes to lose four MPH on his fastball? He’s as healthy as a horse now, and, still, we’re seeing 91 MPH.

    Sure, some probably want to scream “It’s the slow YES gun!” Well, through the first five innings, the same YES gun had Toronto’s Dustin McGowan around 94 MPH with his fastball. And, the YES gun had Brian Bruney throwing around 95 MPH and Joba Chamberlain in the mid-to-high 90′s. If the YES gun is slow, then McGowan, Bruney and Chamberlain were all throwing 100 MPH – which I cannot believe is true.

    Now, at this point, Phil Hughes featuring a 91 MPH fastball is no big deal. With his curve, as long as he has command of the fastball, he’ll be fine – as he was this evening.

    Where this becomes an issue is the year 2018. If Hughes is throwing 91 MPH as a 21-year old, he’s not going to gain speed as he gets older. It doesn’t work that way. Give him about 2,000 big league innings and he will lose four MPH on his fastball (at the least). And, then, Phil Hughes will be a 31-year old pitcher who features a fastball that’s in the range of 89 to 87 MPH. And, that’s not good.

    Looks like 2018 has come seven years early, huh?

    Actually, Paul LoDuca, of all people, on FOX Sports Extra last night had an interesting theory. He said that guys, like Hughes, who throw cutters and curves too much just fry their elbows. (Aaron Sele, anyone?) And, that’s why his velo is down – he’s cooked. (LoDuca did add that Mo Rivera was an exception because of his delivery and the fact that he only throws a natural cutter – and his elbow is spared the stress that someone like Hughes has…between the big bending curve and the forced cutter.)

    If it’s true that “Phranchise Phil” is toast, that’s bad news for the Yankees rotation this season. Of that, most would agree.

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