Showing posts with label Jesus Montero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus Montero. Show all posts

Monday, August 5, 2013

MLB Reads A-Rod the 2-1-1

Circa 1998: "Steroids? What are steroids?"

It's finally official at last, MLB has suspended Alex Rodriguez and 12 others for their involvement with Biogenesis of America. Those 12 others accepted a 50 game suspension. A-Rod, on the other hand, is expected to appeal the 211 games he was slapped with.

The suspensions take effect on August 8 giving time to file an appeal. It also means that A-Rod will get 49 regular season games this year and 162 next year as well as any post-season games. According to FOXSports' Ken Rosenthal, A-Rod got the big body slam because he was "using PEDs, including testosterone and HGH, over multiple years and obstructing and frustrating its investigation."

Commissioner Bud Selig who dragged his feet so long his shoes wore out, released the following statement about all of the suspensions:
“Major League Baseball has worked diligently with the Players Association for more than a decade to make our Joint Drug Program the best in all of professional sports.  I am proud of the comprehensive nature of our efforts – not only with regard to random testing, groundbreaking blood testing for human Growth Hormone and one of the most significant longitudinal profiling programs in the world, but also our investigative capabilities, which proved vital to the Biogenesis case.  Upon learning that players were linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we vigorously pursued evidence that linked those individuals to violations of our Program.  We conducted a thorough, aggressive investigation guided by facts so that we could justly enforce our rules.

“Despite the challenges this situation has created during a great season on the field, we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do.  For weeks, I have noted the many players throughout the game who have strongly voiced their support on this issue, and I thank them for it.  I appreciate the unwavering support of our owners and club personnel, who share my ardent desire to address this situation appropriately.  I am also grateful to the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society and our club physicians, who were instrumental in the banning of amphetamines and whose expertise remains invaluable to me.  As an institution, we have made unprecedented strides together.

“It is important to point out that 16,000 total urine and blood tests were conducted on players worldwide under MLB Drug Programs in 2012.  With the important additions of the HGH testing and longitudinal profiling this season, we are more confident than ever in the effectiveness of the testing program.  Those players who have violated the Program have created scrutiny for the vast majority of our players, who play the game the right way.

“This case resoundingly illustrates that the strength of our Program is not limited only to testing.  We continue to attack this issue on every front – from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills.  Major League Baseball is proud of the enormous progress we have made, and we look forward to working with the players to make the penalties for violations of the Drug Program even more stringent and a stronger deterrent.

“As a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, Baseball must do everything it can to maintain integrity, fairness and a level playing field.  We are committed to working together with players to reiterate that performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in our game.”
The "Dirty Dozen" that accepted a 50 game ban are Francisco Cervelli, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, Jordany Valdespin, Fernando Martinez, Jesus Montero, Cesar Puello, Sergio Escalona, Fautino De Los Santos, Jordan Norberto.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Selig Ready to Bring the Hammer Down Monday

"I'll hold my breath if you suspend me!"

Alex Rodriguez is on his way to the Windy City, if he's not there already, for the Yankees series with the Chicago White Sox beginning Monday night.

It appears A-Rod will be able to suit up once MLB commissioner Bud Selig hands down the third baseman's suspension as well as that of 12 other players. Selig seems to have backed off his threat of a lifetime ban and will allow any players that choose to appeal to continue to play while their case is heard.

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that in addition to A-Rod, Nelson Cruz (Texas), Jhonny Peralta (Detroit), Everth Cabrera (San Diego), Francisco Cervelli (NYY), Fernando Martinez (NYY minors), Jesus Montero (Seattle), Jordan Norberto (Oakland minors), Cesar Puello (NYM minors), and Fautino De Los Santos (San Diego minors) are to be suspended.1

All with the exception of A-Rod are expected to be given 50 game suspension. The three time AL MVP on the other hand is reportedly to be suspended through 2014, with the possibility it could into 2015 if the appeal impacts the number of games A-Rod plays the rest of this season.

Melky Cabrera (Toronto), Bartolo Colon (Oakland), and Yasmani Grandal (San Diego) have already served suspensions for their participation with Biogenesis and will not receive further punishment. Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez name had been mentioned in connection with Biogenesis, but there was no evidence of his involvement.

Update 1:50 PM 8/5: In addition to the names listed above (not including A-Rod), Jordany Valdespino (NYM), Antonio Bastardo (Philly), Sergio Escalona (Houston) have reportedly accepted 50 game suspensions.

1 - CBSsports.com

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pineda To Take the Ball For Trenton



Michael Pineda takes another step towards his first regular season appearance for the Yankees when he starts for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

This will be Pineda's third official minor league start of the season, with prior two coming as a member of the Florida St. League's ('A+') Tampa Yankees. Pineda has also thrown simulated and extended Spring Training.

Pineda, acquired from Seattle with Jose Campos in a controversial deal for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi prior to last season, was shut down during Spring Training of 2012 and underwent shoulder surgery that threatened his career.

Reports have been good during Pineda's comeback with his fastball reportedly topping out at 95 mph. He could eventually take the place of Phil Hughes or David Phelps in the Yankees rotation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Could Pineda Be the Rotation's Savior



Michael Pineda is about to take the next step in his recovery from shoulder surgery. The Yankees announced that Pineda will start a 30-day rehab assignment on Saturday. With Andy Pettitte struggling with a bad back and Phil Hughes a likely candidate to throw to every hitter in this year's home run derby, Pineda could be the guy that stabilizes the rotation.

The much debated trade that sent the Yankees top hitting prospect, Jesus Montero and promising pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Pineda and pitcher Jose Campos was completely in the Mariners favor last season. With the chance to get regular at-bats, Montero produced 15 home runs and 62 RBI in his first full season in the Majors.  Meanwhile, Pineda ended up with shoulder surgery after having to leave a Spring Training game early. Campos was also shut down with a balky elbow.

This year the worm has turned. Montero was completely ineffective at the plate and behind it. The Mariners demoted him on May ?? While playing for Triple-A Tacoma Montero ruptured his left meniscus and will be out 4-6 weeks after surgery. The Yankees are cautiously optimistic that Pineda can join their rotation if he continues to throw consistently in the low-to-mid 90's. (They've already stated Pineda will not be used as a reliever.)

If Pineda is effective, the Yankees could do one of two things with Hughes. Either move the impending free agent at the trade deadline or move him to the bullpen where he excelled in 2009. The latter could also mean moving Joba Chamberlain, whose inconsistency could drive you crazy, to another team at the deadline (or before so I'll have less agida). I don't expect either Hughes or Chamberlain to be with the Yankees next season.

If things go as planned, it could also build towards next year's rotation which could be comprised of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and Pineda,  plus someone acquired through free agency or a trade. This notion is based on the assumption that Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda both retire.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Montero - Pineda: A Year Later



You can count me as one of the people that was ecstatic when the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners for the organization's top prospect, Jesus Montero. Sure, I was sorry to see Montero go...after hearing of all the promise and seeing some of the potential when he was called up in September, 2011, I was anxious to see what he could do with 400-500 at-bats. (Click here to read my take on the night of the deal.)

However, Pineda's success in 2010 tempered my feelings about losing Montero. The hard throwing right-hander was only 23-years old when the 2012 season began. He went 9-10, 3.74 in his rookie season with the Mariners, wtih 173 strikeouts in 171 innings pitched. His 2.9 walks per nine innings wasn't bad for a rookie either.

Pineda built up most of his success in the first half of the season in the Seattle, when he held opposing hitters to a .198 average. His ERA over his first 18 starts was 3.03, but soared to over five in his last 10 starts when he appeared to have worn down. The Mariners limited Pineda to just seven starts over the season's final two months and tried to keep his pitch count under 100 to keep him healthy.

Pineda's previous high of 139.1 innings pitched occurred in the minor leagues the prior season. Perhaps the extended innings, though less than a 25% increase, played into what unfolded during Pineda's first Spring Training with the Yankees in 2012. More on that in a moment.

Meanwhile, Montero got the chance to get his 500+ at-bats in the Major Leagues and an opportunity to catch on a semi-regular basis. While the Mariners limited Montero to 56 games behind the plate, the 22-year old showed potential in the batter's box. He belted 15 home runs and drove in 62 runs in 515 at-bats and struck out 99 times, not a bad total for a rookie. It was accompanied by a .260 batting average and though his OPS of .698 was less than stellar, it still showed promise. It also enraged those Yankees fans who hated the additions Brian Cashman made to the team and the subtraction of Montero from the roster.

That rage got an early start when Pineda showed up to camp overweight and then had to walk off the mound in his last Spring Training start due to tightness in his right shoulder. What was first diagnosed as tendinitis turned out to be a torn labrum that required season ending surgery and put Pineda's future in doubt.

With one-quarter of the 2013 season gone by, quite a bit has changed since the end of the 2012 season. Things have not gone well for Montero. Seattle manager Eric Wedge prefers to use veteran Kelly Shoppach behind the plate and Montero has done poorly with the bat. So poorly, in fact, that the Mariners sent Montero down to Triple-A on Thursday.

Montero has just 3 HR and 9 RBI in 101 at-bats and and just two other extra-base hits. That adds up to a .590 OPS, a number that used to be his slugging pct. alone in the minor leagues. The Mariners hope Montero can recover his stroke and his confidence playing for Triple-A Tacoma.

95-mph...that's what the radar gun read recently for a Pineda fastball at extended Spring Training in Tampa. He's been consistently hitting 93 on the gun and lo and behold, he may start a rehab assignment soon. Potentially, Pineda could be the starter the Yankees might have looked elsewhere for at this year's trade deadline.

A trade that was clearly in Seattle's favor last season, but has now evened out and could swing in the Yankees favor before the year is over.

The Other Guys

Nope, not referring to the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg movie, but the other players that were involved in the Montero-Pineda deal. Jose Campos, a 6'4" right-hander came over with Pineda and had the infamous word "potential" tagged to him as well. Just 19-years old at the time, Campos was 3-0, 4.01 in five starts for the Charleston RiverDogs (Single-A) when he was placed on the 7-day disabled list on May 3 due to discomfort in his right elbow.

Campos ended up missing the entire season, but was able to avoid Tommy John surgery through physical therapy and rest. He's back at Charleston this season, where has made seven starts and a pair of relief appearances. He's struck out 29 batters in 29.2 innings pitched and has a 3.94 ERA and 1.213 WHIP.

Hector Noesi did solid job in the two starts and 28 relief appearances he made for the Yankees in 2011 and the Mariners were counting on him to continue his rise in status on the left coast. Noesi struggled with his control though - 3.3 walks per nine innings - and pitched to a 5.82 ERA in 18 starts and a couple of relief appearances. His strikeouts per nine innings (5.7) also dropped by one and a one-half from the previous season.

Noesi didn't make the Mariners out of Spring Training, but was recalled in mid-April and made four relief apperances before he was sent back down to Tacoma. He was recalled for an emergency spot start against his former club when scheduled starter Aaron Harang was scratched on May 16. Noesi didn't figure in the decision, but came through for the M's when he allowed one unearned in 4.1 innings in an eventual 3-2 Seattle win. He was sent back to Triple-A after the game.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pineda Opens Eyes in Florida



There was mixed response when the Yankees dealt top prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners  prior to the 2012 season for young gun Michael Pineda.

I personally loved the deal; yes getting rid of Montero did not make me happy, but the possible second coming of Felix Hernandez did. Pineda had a fine rookie season and his mid to upper 90's fastball was tantalizing.

Things got off to a rocky start when Pineda came to camp out of shape. Things went from bad to worse when Pineda walked off the mound after getting thumped during a Spring Training game and was in a lot of pain. That pain resulted in shoulder surgery that kept him sidelined for the 2012 season and put his future in doubt.

The fans that were against the deal or on the bubble went ballistic and trashed GM Brian Cashman. Ever hit, home run, or RBI Montero produced just made things worse.

But perhaps there is some room for optimism. Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch reported that Pineda
consistenly hit 93 mph on the radar gun in extended spring training and even hit 95.

A mid-season return for the 24-year old is not out of the question.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cerving Notice

Francisco Cervelli has his smile back


A year ago Francisco Cervelli was not a happy man. He had nailed down the backup job to starting catcher Russell Martin and was ready to travel north with the team for the 2012 season. At least Cervelli thought he had nailed down the job. Two days before the start of the regular season the Yankees acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the San Francisco Giants for minor league reliever George Kontos.

In a matter of hours Cervelli had gone from riding high to riding throughout the International League...literally. The home field of the Scranton-Wilkes Barres Yankees was being renovated, every game played was, in effect, a road game.

Cervelli was angry, pouted, and got off to a bad start in the minors. He wouldn't return to the Major Leagues until the rosters expanded in September. He hit just .246 and slugged .316 for Scranton. It appeared his days in pinstripes were numbered.

The off-season changed all that. The Yankees decided to meet the league's $189MM salary ceiling to avoid the luxury tax for the 2014 season. Doing that meant letting Martin sign elsewhere as a free agent.  Cervelli came to camp refreshed and renewed, and with his head on straight.  Originally slated to play in the World Baseball Class (WBC), Cervelli changed his mind and opted to compete with Chris Stewart for the starting catching job on the Yankees.

At the conclusion of Spring Training, Joe Girardi wasn't sure how he would split up the time between his two backstops. Cervelli made the decision for him; he entered Saturday's play swinging a hot bat and has worked well with the pitching staff.  Yes, there's the occasional one or two hop throw into centerfield on a stolen bsae attempt, but to this point he has fans not caring that the Yankees didn't make much of an effort to keep Martin. (Who, oddly enough, enters Saturday's play just 8-45 on the season.)

Not known for power, Cervelli is already half way to his career high of four home runs. He hit a 9th inning home run against Arizona Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz Thursday night to send the game into extra innings. More impressive is his 1.012 OPS through 12 games, one of the highlights of which is he's drawn more walks (8) than he has struck out (5).  It's a small sample, but he's 3-4 with runners in scoring position.

Cervelli even played an inning at second base when the Yankees got in a tight jam. No matter where he is on the field, Cervelli has his smile and confidence back, and he knows not to take anything for granted.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

YCN: Mason Williams Rockets to the Top of the 2013 Yankees Prospect List


For some reason Yahoo has decided to move the Yahoo Sports contributor articles into Yahoo Voices, which doesn't get the exposure that the sports section does. That being said, I have written a new article, published in Voices, that details the Yankees top 10 prospects (determined by Baseball America) for 2013.

Mason Williams has been steadily moving up the ranks is number 1 this year. Gary Sanchez and Slade Heathcott are in the top 10 as well, while Dellin Betances and Dante Bichette dropped off from last year's list.

To see the full article, click here, and thank you.

Here's the list of the BA's top 10 Yankees prospects for the last decade.

YearPlayer, Pos2012 Org
2003Jose Contreras, rhpPhillies
2004Dioner Navarro, cReds
2005Eric Duncan, 3bRoyals
2006Phil Hughes, rhpYankees
2007Phil Hughes, rhpYankees
2008Joba Chamberlain, rhpYankees
2009Austin Jackson, ofTigers
2010Jesus Montero, cMariners
2011Jesus Montero, cMariners
2012Jesus Montero, cMariners

Monday, August 20, 2012

How Not To Spend Your Time on the DL



Michael Pineda had to field questions about his maturity during Spring Training earlier this year. He showed up out of shape and  it was thought at first that was the reason he had diminished velocity on his fastball. Since the Yankees dealt top prospect Jesus Montero for him, that didn't go over too well with the fans.

As it turned out Pineda needed shoulder surgery and his season was lost. But apparently the maturity issue remains out there. Pineda got busted for DUI  at 3 in the morning Monday down in Tampa and was released on $500 bail.

Not the way to make a second impression.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jayson Gets Big Hit Just in the Nix of Time

Nix's game winner - courtesy of greenwichtime.com
The Yankees were this close to a miserable 1-6 West Coast swing against the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners, but Jayson Nix delivered a go ahead 3-run double in the 8th inning and the Yankees topped the Mariners 5-2 Wednesday afternoon.

Unless GM Brian Cashman pulls off a deal for another asset, Nix and Eric Chavez will be looked upon to provide production at third base in light of Alex Rodriguez's broken hand. Nix entered the game hitting just .235 with 7 RBI, and faced a bases loaded situation after Josh Kinney hit Derek Jeter to start the 8th and Lucas Luetge gave up back to back singles to Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira.

Curtis Granderson fouled out before Joe Girardi sent Nix up to pinch-hit for Raul Ibanez. Seattle manager Eric Wedge countered with right-hander Shawn Kelley, but Nix ripped a ball up the alley in left-center field to clear the bases. Russell Martin added an RBI single later in the inning for some insurance, but Nix's hit was huge for a player who entered the game just 1-9 with runners in scoring position.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova struggled his way through five innings and walked a career high six hitters. The final two free passes started the 6th inning and ended Nova's day. The Yankees bullpen was outstanding once again though as Clay Rapada, David Phelps, and David Robertson combined for three scoreless innings as a bridge to Rafael Soriano.


The Yankees' closer allowed a 2-out single in the 9th, but struck out Ichiro's replacement, Carlos Peguero, to end the game.


Notes

Utility Infielder Ramiro Pena was recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take A-Rod's spot on the roster.

Derek Jeter (twice), A-Rod, and Ichiro were all hit by pitches in the last two games, but no Yankees pitcher retaliated. Felix Hernandez, who through the pitch that broke A-Rod's hand, said after Tuesday night's game that he "felt bad" about what happened. Hernandez does not have a reputation of a hitting batters.

David Phelps picked up his second victory of the season and struck out two batters to give him 51 K's in 46.2 innings pitched.

With A-Rod out of the lineup, Girardi moved Ichiro in the lead off spot and slipped Jeter back into his old number 2 hole.

Jesus Montero had to feel pretty good about himself after throwing out Ichiro when his former teammate tried to steal second base in the 5th inning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pineda To Miss 2012..WHAT???



While I was out chasing that little white ball around this afternoon, the Yankees were informing the press that Micheal Pineda will miss the entire 2012 season due to a torn labrum.

I remember the day I heard of the trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle for Pineda and a prospect. I was sad to see Montero go, but ecstatic to get a young stud pitcher like Pineda. Now I sit here wondering if Pineda has a future.

According to mlb.com's Bryan Hoch, Pineda will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to repair the anterior labral tear. The operation will be performed by Dr. David Altchek (with assistance from Yankees' team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad) at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC.

Now the first thing you are thinking is, "Did Seattle send damaged goods?" Brian Cashman emphatically told the press "No" when queried on the subject.
"We had the opportunity to do a full physical exam, which we did, which came out clean. Michael has never had a shoulder issue nor has he complained of one with the Mariners, nor has he ever had any tests on the shoulder with the Mariners. This is just an unfortunate circumstance that can happen. It happened."
Cashman also reported on Pineda's current mental state:
"He's down. I can tell you that obviously he's someone with a bright future that has a lot of things going through his mind about what his future is going to be. He'll get the best medical care possible." 
Pineda raised eyebrows when he reported to Spring Training overweight and lacked velocity on his fastball. Normally lighting up the radar gun in the mid-90's and occassionally higher, Pineda's not-so-fast fastball was clocked at 90-91 mph and didn't improve as camp went on.

It wasn't until he was forced to leave a game against the Phillies on March 30, that the Yankees learned Pineda had been troubled by a sore shoulder for weeks. Afraid of losing out on a spot in the rotation, Pineda kept his mouth shut and tried to pitch past the pain, which was originally evaluated as tendinitis. When Pineda had a bullpen session shut down due to pain this past weekend, the Yankees sent him for an MRI with contrast and that's when the tear was discovered.

The Yankees are optomistic that Pineda will make a full recovery and be back on the mound in a year's time. (Based on what we know from Michael's MRI scan, there is a discrete tear," Ahmad said. "We do feel that tear can be repaired arthroscopically. Based on that, we're optimistic that we can get him recovered."). In the meantime, the Yankees will count on Andy Pettitte's comeback to fill the hole left by Pineda and the ineffective performance, thus far, by Freddy Garcia.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mariano Is Ready For His Close Up


One of the rites of spring, along with seeing the first robin, is when Mariano Rivera toes the rubber in a Spring Training game. That day has come as Rivera will face the Philadelphia Phillies today in Tampa. The game will be televised on YES at 1 pm. Rivera will likely pitch in the middle innings like he starts out every year.

Watch it and appreciate it, because it may be a "last first".

Relieved Reliever:

It looks like David Robertson can somewhat breathe a sigh of relief. D-Rob injured his foot in a fall while trying to be ecologically responsible (throwing out recycling). The Yankees had cause for concern from an MRI, but the righty is done with his crutches and hopes to shed the walking boot soon after being diagnosed with a bone bruise. The Yankees will take it slowly with him.

Rotate on this:

CC Sabathia will also face the Phils while Phil Hughes takes the bus ride to Ft. Myers for a game with the Twins. Hughes needs to have a good outing after looking a little shaky his first time out. The one plus from that first game, which came in relief of Sabathia, was that his fastball was 92-93 mph. A good start today would go a long way towards helping his confidence.

Hughes would also like to have a good day after Freddy Garcia, his competition for the five spot in the rotation, threw three scoreless innings against the Braves on Friday.

Ivan Nova is looking to show that last season's 16 game output was no fluke, but the right-hander struggled on Thursday. Location, location, location is the key to pitch and so far Nova's hasn't been there.

I can hear the complaints already, but anyone who does complain is being ridiculous. I am, of course, talking about Michael Pineda's spring thus far. The Jesus Montero lovers, who already have him in the Hall of Fame, must bash Pineda in return. But the kid tends tonot have his fastball up to snuff early in spring training and has admitted to taking it slow. And that's just fine with the Yankees. This kid is the real deal. That is my mantra and I'll stand by it.

Hiroki Kuroda, a lock for the #2 spot in the rotoation, looked pretty good his first time out and should be no worries.

Benchmen:

Good interview by the Star-Ledger's Jeff Bradley with Eric Chavez, particularly about the movie Moneyball. Chavez was on that 2002 A's team and didn't give the movie a full thumbs up. Check it out here.

Eduardo Nunez isn't ready to hit yet after being hit with a pitch on the hand and is still in pain. He's planning on getting it re-checked on Sunday.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baseball Digest | Friday Night Flights: Montero, Pineda Swap Coasts


Shortly before 8 p.m. EST Friday night, you may have heard a blood curdling scream in the New York/Metropolitan area. It came from the lungs (and fingers for those who scream in type) of Yankees fans who had just learned of the trade of the team’s number one prospect, Jesus Montero.

Similar reactions may have been heard on the left coast when Seattle Mariners fans found out their young stud pitcher Michael Pineda was headed east. The Yankees and Mariners have reportedly completed a four player exchange with their young studs as the centerpieces.

As first reported by the Seattle Times’ Larry Stone, the Yankees sent Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Pineda and pitcher Jose Campos. Noesi was one of the Yankees promising young starters on the rise, and showed some of his mettle as a reliever at the Major League level last season. Campos is a 19-yr old right-hander with potential (Evaluator John Sickels rated him as the #5 M’s prospect for 2012 and had this to say, “Grade B: We need to see him at higher levels and his secondary stuff needs refinement, but his upside is very high, he throws hard, and already throws strikes.”), but will not have an impact for quite some time.

Clearly this deal was about the Yankees need to boost their starting rotation and the Mariners need for a big bat. After being rebuffed in their attempt to acquire Felix Hernandez, the Yankees went after his young teammate (Pineda will be 23 next week).

Pineda’s rookie season of 2011 saw him finish 9-10, 3.74 with a 1.10 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 171 innings. The 6’7″, 260 pound native of the Dominican Republic limited AL hitters to a .211 batting average and gave up just 133 hits. He also held right-handed hitters to a .587 OPS with a torrid fastball and nasty slider. According to Fangraphs.com, Pineda averaged 94.7 mph on his fastball, the fourth best mark in the AL.

>Pineda dominated in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field (2.92 ERA in 12 starts) and was much better in the first half before tiring down the stretch. In fact, the Mariners limited his innings per start over the final two months of the season.

With the Yankees lacking pop from the right side, Montero got the call to the bigs in August and produced a .996 OPS in 69 plate appearances. Among Montero’s 17 hits were four home runs and four doubles, and he drove in 17 runs. Montero has good power to the opposite field and averaged 18 home runs in his first four full seasons in the minor leagues. He was nearly dealt to the Mariners at the 2010 trade deadline for Cliff Lee, but Seattle opted to obtain Justin Smoak from Texas instead.

In Montero, the Mariners get a player with 30 home run potential, even if their ballpark is not suited to a hitter’s needs. There were mixed feelings within the Yankees organization as to whether or not the 6’4″ Montero could make it in the Major Leagues as a catcher and that certainly played into the decision to deal him. With 1st base occupied (Mark Teixeira) and the DH slot needed to give the Yankees aging stars (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, etc.) a rest, there wasn’t much room for Montero to flourish. With Seattle, he’ll get that chance.

Brian Cashman told the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch that he believes he took a big gamble. ”I gave up a ton (for Pineda). To me, Montero is Mike Piazza. He’s Miguel Cabrera.” He may have taken a risk, but this deal appears to be a “win-win”, with both teams profiting. It also puts the Yankees back on top as the favorite in the AL East.

Cashman wasn’t done dealing on Friday night though. A short time after the trade was reported, word came that the Yankees and free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had agreed to a one year contract, pending a physical, worth $10-11MM. Kuroda was thought to be seeking a $13MM deal.

Kuroda, who turns 36 in February, came over from Japan in 2008 and was 41-46 in four seasons with the LA Dodgers, despite a 3.46 ERA. He’s coming off a 13-16 season with a career low 3.07 ERA and a 3.7 WAR, also tops in his four seasons.

With the two acquisitions, the landscape of the Yankees’ starting rotation changed drastically. Prior to Friday evening, the Yankees five man squad was made up of ace CC Sabathia, 2nd year man Ivan Nova, the erratic A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and surprise 2011 stand out, Freddy Garcia. Hughes’ immediate future is now up in the air and he could be used as trade bait to bring back a bat. The Yankees would most certainly rather trade Burnett, but the $33MM owed to him is an albatross around Cashman’s neck.

The Yankees would be looking for a short term, low salaried player. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported tonight that Carlos Pena was among the bats that were piquing the Yankees interest.

Yankees sign Hiroki Kuroda too.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Captain and The Kid Rock The Sox


With their off-season signings, their returning players, and all the hype that surrounded the Boston Red Sox during spring training, it's hard to imagine just how tough things are for the old towne team right now. Jon Lester, one of the most dependable starters in the American League, couldn't make it out of the 3rd inning on Saturday as the Yankees belted Boston 9-1 to shrink the Sox wild card lead to just 1.5 games over Tampa Bay.

Derek Jeter capped a six run 2nd inning with a 3-run home run to the opposite field and Jesus Montero later homered and drove in four runs for the game. Lester allowed eight earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched and has now allowed 18 earned runs in 13.2 innings over his last three starts.

Montero helped his cause for making the post-season roster with an RBI single in the 2nd, a 2-run double in the 3rd, and a frozen rope home run to right in the 6th. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman must decide if Montero's bat justifies him on the squad as the backup catcher as well. Jorge Posada is likely to make the team as well, with Austin Romine left out. Meaning the Yankees hope Russell Martin stays healthy throughout.

Freddy Garcia earned his 12th win and probably a Game 3 start in the ALDS by tossing six shutout innings.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Last Licks Really Hurt Me


The Yankees are on a roll right now and it's not a good one. Dominated by Jered Weaver, the Yankees managed just three hits against the LA Angels and lost in the bottom of the 9th 2-1. It made the three straight losses for NY, all of them in the opponent's final at-bat.

Jesus Montero's third home run of the season provided the Yankees with their only run and Montero was also the only Yankee to reach second base off of Weaver, who struck out 11. The Angels tied the game when a Derek Jeter error led to an unearned run off Bartolo Colon (7 IP), who had his best start of the second half.

But after David Robertson tossed a scoreless 8th inning, Joe Girardi went to the back end/mop up/garbage part of the bullpen. Aaron Laffey allowed a lead off single to Alberto Callaspo and was pulled in favor of Luis Ayala. The veteran right-hander gave up a single to Vernon Wells and then hit Peter Bourjos to load the bases. Maicer Izturis delivered a pinch-hit sac fly to center to score pinch-runner Jeremy Moore with the game winner.

With the Yankees losses to the Orioles on Wednesday and Thursday in extra innings by identical 5-4 scores, the Bombers have a three game losing streak. But the AL East still remains a 2.5 game lead with Boston having also lost three straight and seven of nine (no, not THAT seven of nine).

The Yankees managed just a walk off Weaver in the first two innings before Montero started off the third with his third home run of the season. After going 0-4 in his debut, the Yankees top prospect is 7-16 (.438) with three home runs and six RBI, all of which have come in the last three games. The only other hits the Yankees managed were a Robinson Cano single in the 4th and a Derek Jeter single in the 7th. Alex Rodriguez drew a one out walk in the 9th off closer Jordan Walden, but pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez was thrown out attempting to steal second base.

Colon scattered six hits, walked just one, and struck out five in the no-decision. Bourjos reached against him with out in the 5th with a bunt single and Jeff Mathis reached on Jeter's throwing error. Colon got Erick Aybar on a fielder's choice, but Howie Kendrick singled to tie the game.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Jesus Did Do


New York Yankees fans have been waiting for Jesus Montero's arrival for some time. He made his Yankee Stadium debut this past Saturday, but this afternoon is when he arrived. Montero hit a go ahead solo home run in the 5th and added a 2-run home run in the 7th that proved to be the difference in an 11-10 Yankees win.

Montero hit his first Major League home run off of Orioles reliever Jim Johnson (5-5) into the seats in right-center and took a curtain call when the Yankee Stadium crowd beckoned. His second home run came with a man aboard wasn't far from the landing spot of his first one. Montero wasn't alone in having a big day though as the two teams used 12 pitchers.

Orioles' starter Brian Matusz lasted only in 1.1 innings and was charged with five runs while Yankees' starter Freddy Garcia didn't fare any better, allowing seven runs in 2.2 innings. Reliever Aaron Laffey picked up his first win with .2 scoreless innings. Mariano Rivera notched his 38th save, but it didn't come easy either. He allowed a run on two hits and hit a batter before he struck out J.J. Hardy with two on and two out to end the game.

The Orioles had 1-0 and 5-2 leads, but Curtis Granderson's 2-run double cut the lead to 5-4 and Robinson Cano capped the 2nd inning with his seventh career grand slam for an 8-5 Yankees lead. But Mark Reynolds smacked a 2-run home run off Garcia and Robert Andino welcomed Scott Proctor back to Yankee Stadium with a game tyng solo home run in the top of the 5th.

But then Jesus Montero rose to the occassion and, Yankees fans hope, a star was born.

Notes

Nick Markakis (15) and Mark Teixeira (36) each hit home runs in the 1st inning.

The Yes Network's Jack Curry tweeted this afternoon that the Yankees are considering promoting prospect Dellin Betances to add depth to the pitching staff.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Red Sox Get Martinized



The prospects for the Yankees winning 2 of 3 in Boston were not good, considering that A.J. Burnett, he of the 13.86 ERA in his last three starts, was going up against Red Sox stud Jon Lester in the series finale Thursday night. But John Sterling is occassionally right, especially when he says you can't predict baseball. Burnett kept the Yankees in the game through his 5.1 innings and Russell Martin delivered a clutch 2-run double in the 7th inning to give the Yankees a 4-2 victory and their first series win against Boston this season.

The biggest story lines coming into the game was how would Burnett fare (or as most people figured, how badly he would fare) and the Major League debut of Jesus Montero. Burnett was going along swimmingly until he threw a high fastball to high fastball hitter Dustin Pedroia, who launched it into the center field seats to the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the 4th. But unlike most of his prior starts, Burnett didn't melt down. Instead he beared down and tossed a scoreless 5th inning before leaving with two men aboard and one out in the 6th. Boone Logan and Cory Wade stranded the base runners and the Yankees finally broke through against the Boston bullpen in the 7th.

Jon Lester had given the Yankees a number of opportunities to score, but they couldn't get the big hit off of him. What they did do though was work the count and forced Lester out of the game after five innings and 114 pitches. Andruw Jones worked his third walk of the night against former Yankee Al Aceves to start the rally. That brought up Montero, who had already stranded six base runners on the night. He didn't deliver a key hit, but got hit when an Aceves pitch clipped his jersey.


Terry Francona brought on fireballer Daniel Bard to face Martin, but as he has done often thi season, the Yankees catcher came through in the clutch, drilling a pitch up the alley in right-center. Jones scored easily to tie the game and Montero slid across home plate with the go ahead run well ahead of the relay throw home. Eric Chavez then gave the Yankees some insurance with a pinch-hit RBI single to right for a 4-2 Yankees lead.

But you know nothing is easy in a Yankees-Red Sox series and that was exemplified in all three games of the series. Mariano Rivera came in to close things out in the 9th and walked the lead off hitter Jed Lowrie. Rivera got his cutter in enough on the hands to Josh Reddick who couldn't get the "good wood" on it as Kenny Singleton likes to say, and flied to right. Rivera blew away Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a a pair of fastballs for the second out and things seemed to be easy going. But Mariano and company had to sweat this one out. He walked Jacoby Ellsbury to put the tying runs on basis and then gave up a single to his nemesis Marco Scutaro to load the bases. That brought up the AL's batting leader Adrian Gonzalez, who also entered the game with 103 RBI.

Rivera busted one cutter after another in on Gonzalez's hand and body- in fact Gonzalez fouled a pitch into himself that looked like it might have hit him had he taken it. The final pitch of the night was a result of all those inside pitches as Rivera fired a cutter at the outside corner that Gonzalez could only watch. Home plate ump Alfonso Marquez rung him up and the game was over some four hours after it began.

NOTES

Mark Teixeira took a hard breaking pitch from Al Aceves off the back of his right knee and went down in tremendous pain. He's listed as day-to-day, but it would not be surprising to see him miss at least a couple of games. Michael Kay pointed out on the broadcast that the White Sox Paul Konerko had a similar injury and missed four games. In fact he returned in a series against the Yankees and was still having trouble running.

In addition to Montero, the Yankees brought up old friend Scott Proctor, left-hander Raul Valdes, righty Lance Pendleton, outfielder Chris Dickerson, and third baseman Brandon Laird, Infielder Ramiro Pena will likely join the team as well once he finished his minor league rehab assignment.

David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

The Yankees return home Friday night to begin a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ivan Nova faces Brandon Morrow in the opener.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Post-Season Numbers Game

With a month left in the season it's time to do some speculation on the make up of the Yankees 25-man roster for the post-season. The opponent will likely either be the Detroit Tigers or the Texas Rangers, though either should have little impact on who makes the roster and who doesn't.

Most of the roster spots are obvious, but there are still a few spots up for grabs. Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Martin, Cervelli, Nunez, Chavez, Jones are the 12 hitters/fielders that are a given.

The pitching staff has Sabathia, Nova, Garcia, Colon, Rivera, Robertson, Soriano, Logan, and Wade for a total of 9.

That's 21 rosters spots taken with four opening to be filled. The Yankees have their four starters, so there's no reason that A.J. Burnett should be on the post-season roster. Phil Hughes could be added as a righty specialist. Perhaps Luis Ayala, the team's current long man might be added to eat innings in case of a blow out. But I think the big surprise here is that Hector Noesi is added over the three of them. The dark horse could be Raul Valdes, a journeyman lefty that was recalled by the Yankees today and will get a chance in September to prove the team needs a second lefty in addition to Logan.

You normally carry 12 pitchers during the regular season, but there's really no reason to go with more than 10, 11 at the most in the post-season, especially in a short series.

On offense Jorge Posada is not a given due to his lack of production. If Jesus Montero shows any thing at all, he'll be on the roster. The Yankees are likely to add another infielder (Ramiro Pena) and another outfielder, likely Chris Dickerson.

The Montero Era Begins




The much awaited Jesus Montero era begins tonight. Well, all Yankees fan hope it's the start of an era. With the Yankees in need of some added punch from the right side, Montero will get plenty of at-bats against left-handers in the final month of the season. In fact, he's been thrown right into the heat of the pennant race. He's in tonight's starting lineup vs. Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox in the finale of the three game series in Fenway Park.

Still just 22 years old, Montero has had his share of ups and down in the minor leagues. He's had his catching ability questioned at every level and has evoked consistent negative comments from opposing scouts. But Montero has confidence in his ability to be a big league catcher and even more confidence in his bat. It's that bat that the Yankees hope can do damage in September and beyond. Joe Girardi has stated that he woud like to see Montero behind the plate this month, but with the Yankees in a scuffle for the division title, that's not likely to happen any time soon. Montero will find plenty of time though at DH whenever a southpaw toes the rubber.

Montero has also had his attitude questioned; some of it due to his own actions or words, some of it as a result of over zealous media members or once again, opposing personnel. That's why the first impression he makes as a big leaguer is even more important than whether or not he can recognize a curveball or go deep in a crucial situation. The Yankees feel the hitting will come in bunches, but they want to be sure Montero is mature enough to handle the big leagues. Luckily, he'll have fellow Latin players like Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, and even fellow rookie Eduardo Nunez to help guide him.

Posada's influece is of course bit ironic since Montero's bat has become a necessity because of the continued lack of production from the Yankees veteran. Once Alex Rodriguez returns to the lineup on a regular basis, Posada will see little playing time outside of a pinch-hit here or there. Though a switch-hitter, Posada is now blocked by both Eric Chavez (from the left side) and Montero.

It's the start of one era and the end of another.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Yankees Did Nothing...And Nothing Was Good


There are probably plenty of Yankees fans out there tonight bemoaning the fact that Yankees did not acquire one player at the trade deadline. Despite another excellent outing from Freddy Garcia, there's a sense of panic that the pitching staff won't hold up and won't get the job done when the biggest games are on the line.

But what these fans don't realize, there was nothing of substance on the market. Yes, there was Ubaldo Jimenez, who personally I have concerns about, but Colorado wanted Phil Hughes, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, and Manny Banuelos. That is bananas. Cashman was willing to include Hughes in a deal, but the Rockies weren't interested especially after the Yankees wanted to see Jimenez's medical records ahead of time.

Some fans probably are livid that the Red Sox landed Erik Bedard, but the achy-breaky left-hander hasn't exactly had a lengthy, healthy track record. The Red Sox didn't even have to part iwth any of their top tier prospects to get him. (Though the Dodgers gave up their 10th rated player, Trayvon Robinson, to Boston who then dealt him to Seattle.)

The price was too high for San Diego's Heath Bell and though Mike Adams would have been a nice addition, where exactly would he fit with Soriano, Robertson, and Rivera?

King Felix was not available. The Yankees were willing to pay $21MM of the remaining money owed Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, but the Astros wouldn't pick up the rest.

The Yankees could use another bat..and they'll have one soon. His name is Alex Rodriguez.

It is what it is and it's not good to make a trade just for the sake of making a trade.