Sunday, January 21, 2007

Back to Work

It's been 6 days since I last posted. Wow. That's a rarity. It seems that the occupation of fatherhood has kept me from the business of Yankees blogging. I suppose the lining in the silver cloud of non-posting has been the relative lack of news in Yankees Universe recently. Man, I can't wait until pitchers and catchers in less than a month.

I'm back to blogging today, and back to work tomorrow morning, so I'm hoping the productivity increases as the season draws nearer by the day. Today, I'll just recap some of the minor things in the news and in lightning style make a comment or two. Here we go:

1. The Braves scoop Gonzalez and Craig Wilson.

This is a double-whammy for Yankee fans, albeit a minor one. On the first roster move, I think the Yankees were better off for having kept Melky in pinstripes, although I never hated the trade that was being bounced around. Having Melky in the Bronx, or at least available for a larger trade down the road, is a good thing. On the second roster move, Craig Wilson never got a good shake in the Bronx and I wish he were the guy manning first next year. Mister Mxyzptlk may be a tough at bat to watch this year, and part of me hopes the Red Sox find a way to make him say his name backwards so he can return to whatever mid-90s netherworld dimension he left his glove in.

2. Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs are on different financial pages.

Zambrano wants Zito-esque money($18 million) to extend his contract with the Cubbies. Speculation is that if he doesn't get that before opening day, he will in fact test the free agent waters in the offseason. Anyone who reads here regularly will know that I'm a big Zambrano fan. I know he walks the ballpark sometimes and I know he's thrown way too many pitches at his age, but he's a very good ballplayer. This is the note from his Wikipedia entry describing his repertoire and propensity for walking batters:

"His pitches come out of a slinging, three-quarters to low three-quarters delivery. His main pitch is his hard, moving two-seam & four-seam fastball that clocks anywhere from 94-98 mph, but usually settling around 96 or 97 mph. Carlos has a heavy cannonball of a sinker that he likes to throw with a split grip. This pitch usually winds up getting beaten into the ground by the batter which is one reason Zambrano likes pitching at Chicago's Wrigley Field with its tall, thick grass. He always makes sure to mix in plenty of sharp-breaking sliders & splits to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball. He has also developed a change-up that he throws mostly to left-handed batters. His main weakness is a lack of pinpoint control, leading to a tendency to surrender walks. Nevertheless, Zambrano seems to be hurt less by giving up walks than most pitchers, due to the fact that batters hit many more ground balls than fly balls against him. This can be attributed to the sinking movement of his fastball. He rarely surrenders home runs (65 in his career) and often induces double plays."

His career ERA+ is 133 and he'll only be 26 this season. Zambrano is 23 innings short of qualifying for the "active leaderboard" in the ERA+ category, but should he be included, only Pedro, Clemens, Santana, Oswalt, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux would be above him, and Roy Halladay at 130 just below. Pedro, Clemens, Johnson, and Maddux are all way past their best days, so Zambrano ranks as one of 4 pitchers at this level (above 130), in his prime.

I hope he hits the open market, cause he'd look good in the Bronx. More on Zambrano as the season progresses.....

3. The rotation.

I'll wrap things here today, so I can continue with a stream of thoughts over the next few days. The rotation will be the main point of focus this season, with a lot of question marks, and probably a high degree of volatility from a fan perspective. Every shaky outing that the Yankees starters put out there will be met with a kind of "See, I told you so." angst that frankly annoys me. There are a lot of fans (probably the same group that boos A-Rod) that are looking for a reason to be pissed off at the Yanks. They are Yankee fans, to be sure, but they are pessimists at heart and actually need the stress to fuel them and redirect their personal trials and tribulations onto sports. I suppose that's okay. Whatever gets you through the night. Me, I'm excited about the prospect of seeing any number of our young prospects hit the Bronx this season. Clemens or no Clemens, I am more excited about Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, and Ross Ohlendorf. Hughes is the future, without a doubt, but Sanchez also intrigues me. I found this YouTube clip from the 2006 Futures Game. He strikes out Stephen Drew on a nasty breaking pitch, gets Howie Kendrick to bounce out weakly, and strikes out Alex Gordon looking on the same big curve that got Drew to start the inning.

Who knows, maybe we don't need Zambrano in the end. In just a few short years maybe we trot out Hughes, Wang, Sanchez, Betances, and Joba Chamberlain every week. I would love that. See you tomorrow....


singlessss said...

Hey Mike... Nice to see you come up for air. I do not believe for a minute that Cashman is satisfied with our rotation. I just think he does NOT want to overpay or overcommit for mediocrity. One way or the other, the Yanks should be in the hunt all year. If they stay healthy and Wang/Moose/Pettite are as good as they COULD be, we are OK as is. If we have injury, or lower performances, I think Cashman will get someone at that time.

Aside from Rajah, there are a few decent pitchers who might be on the block mid season. And there is always the farm X-factor.

Cashman is holding his cards. He ain't raising, but ain't folding. He's waiting for more cards to be dealt. I'm good with it. Our future is much brighter and our present, while it could be better, ain't bad.

And while we certainly could have used better pitching last PS, I still blame the offense. We made their pitchers look a lot better then they were.

Shef at 1st, ARod batting 8th, Giambi siiting out a game. Our PS was a mess.... and almost the entire team failed at the plate.

Hope the baby is doing great.

jim said...

Long time, first time, Mike. Glad to hear you're finding a routine again. Only 25 days to P&C!

You know I'm with you on Zambrano, but at those prices I hope they don't feel the need to trade the prospects. Just wait and sign him in the off-season.

I'm also excited by Sanchez. He looks legit and I really hope they don't put him in the bullpen.

Otherwise I think I'm just down on the one-two puke punch of the Unit trade and The Cairo/MCI signings. I had no trouble with trading Unit - just they should have gotten some positional prospects back.

Be well and see you around soon!

Fred Vincy said...

Thanks for the video. Sanchez sure looked like he both has good stuff and knows how to use it. Injuries are an issue, but I think the Yanks are well positioned to manage that.

Mike Plugh said...

Thanks guys.

Jim, I've seen enough vomit over the last 3 weeks.....if Cash doesn't get us a BUC soon, I think my boy is going to join you in some kind of pukers anonymous.

I feel really good about a rotation that has Hughes, Wang, Sanchez, Betances, and Camberlain somewhere down the road. That could be a nutso rotation if things pan out.

brant said...

Mike -

Completely off topic, but I'm hoping that with your affection for your new 1B - that you might make a call to FREE JACK CUST and bring him to the Bronx. The guy puts up sick numbers and would be an excellent addition to the lineup. The fact that he doesn't know which end of the glove to wear aside, I'd take him at DH and Giambi in the field on a daily basis for his production.

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