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Archive for June 8th, 2010

After struggling to score all weekend in Toronto, the Yankees pounded out 12 runs and 15 hits against the free falling Orioles. It didn’t take long for the Yankees to get on the board as Nick Swisher sent the sixth pitch of the game 420 feet over the centerfield fence to give the Yankees an immediate 2-0 lead. Then, in the third, Curtis Granderson’s grand slam extended the margin to 6-0, likely causing every television set tuned into the Orioles to immediately switch over to watch Stephen Strasburg mow down the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Curtis Granderson is greeted at home plate after clearing the bases with a third inning grand slam (Photo: AP).

Phil Hughes, who entered the game as the league leader in run support, was once again the beneficiary of a Yankee offensive outburst, but for the first three innings it didn’t appear as if he would need much help. In the fourth and fifth, however, Hughes’ command abandoned him, causing the Yankees’ righty to throw 50 pitches while giving up three runs that cut the lead in half. Hughes eventually rebounded with a quick and easy 10-pitch sixth, but his mounting pitch count ensured that it would also be his last inning.

Meanwhile, with scouts on hand to evaluate Kevin Millwood in anticipation of a trade, the veteran righty allowed fifteen base runners over only 5 2/3 innings. At 0-7, Millwood’s ERA has been on the rise, while his trade value has been in decline.

In the top of the seventh, the Yankees scored six more runs, highlighted by Nick Swisher’s three run double and Mark Teixeira’s two-run homer. Although Swisher’s hit broke the game wide open, Teixeira’s blast may have been even more important as it could help ease some of the tension that has led the New York tabloids to call for the Yankee first baseman’s demotion in the lineup. Teixeira ended the night going 3-4 with two walks, matching the three-hit output of both Swisher and Cano.

Two negatives from the Yankees perspective was the hitless performance of Alex Rodriguez, who left six runners on base, as well as the dismal effort by Chad Gaudin, who yielded four runs over two innings to raise his ERA to 8.53. Gaudin has now given up a run in four of five outings since returning to the Yankees and may be looking at his third DFA this season.

Of course, the Yankees won’t get much sympathy from the Orioles, whose season is approaching historic levels of futility. At 16-42, the Orioles are on pace for their worst season in franchise history and within reach of establishing the worst record in modern history.

  • The Yankees have homered in 18 straight games at Camden Yards, a record by a visiting team.
  • With a home run and a double, Nick Swisher improved his OPS at Camden Yards to 1.226, the highest by any visiting player.
  • Robinson Cano’s three hit performance was his 9th of the season, which is best in the American League. Nick Swisher is one behind Cano with eight such games.
  • The Orioles .276 winning percentage would rank as the lowest in franchise history. The 1939 St. Louis Browns currently hold that distinction with a .279 winning percentage. The lowest winning percentage recorded in Baltimore was .335 in 1988.

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As the Nationals and Pirates get ready to host Stephen Strasburg’s debutant ball in Washington, the Yankees and Orioles will be playing just 35 miles down the road in Baltimore. Judging by the size of the shadow cast by Strasburg’s long anticipated unveiling, however, you’d think the game was being played light years away.

Amid much less fanfare, the Yankees will be sending their own young phenom to the mound. Still only 23 years old, Phil Hughes seeks to improve upon his breakout 2010 campaign by facing a struggling Orioles team that just recently snapped a 10-game losing streak. Hughes has already faced the Orioles on two occasions during the early season, surrendering two earned runs in 12 2/3 innings. In total, his 7-1 record tops the American League in winning percentage while his 2.54 ERA ranks fifth. It may have taken a little longer than hoped, but the Yankees first round selection in the 2004 draft seems to finally be paying off with results that even Strasburg would be proud to own.

Hughes’ mound opponent this evening is Kevin Millwood. Although not drafted until the 11th round in 1993, Millwood was once himself a hot young pitcher who won 40 games before the age of 25. Now, he finds himself pitching solidly as a journeyman, but winless nonetheless because of the poor performance of his ballclub.

After being swept by the Yankees last week in New York, the Orioles’ poor start finally cost manager Dave Trembley his job. It remains to be seen whether interim manager Juan Samuel can lead the Birds to a respectable finish over the remainder of the season, but at least for the next three games, the Yankees  hope it’s business as usual.

The Yankees will play over half of their remaining games in June against last place teams, so this upcoming series in Baltimore marks the beginning of a stretch during which they can make some headway in the division. Of course, the Yankees still have to play…and win…the games. So, while most of the baseball world will be watching the spectacle played just to the south, the Yankees full attention will need to be on the task at hand.

vs. Kevin Millwood PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 35 0.290 0.353 0.419 0 2
Nick Swisher RF 41 0.343 0.439 0.657 3 7
Mark Teixeira 1B 21 0.353 0.476 0.647 1 1
Alex Rodriguez 3B 29 0.370 0.414 0.630 2 4
Robinson Cano 2B 24 0.391 0.417 0.565 1 4
Jorge Posada DH 23 0.263 0.391 0.579 2 3
Curtis Granderson CF 38 0.242 0.342 0.455 1 4
Francisco Cervelli C 6 0.200 0.333 0.200 0 1
Brett Gardner LF 12 0.273 0.273 0.545 1 2
Total 229 0.313 0.389 0.547 11 28
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Julio Lugo 2B 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Miguel Tejada 3B 12 0.182 0.250 0.364 0 0
Nick Markakis RF 21 0.300 0.333 0.400 0 3
Ty Wigginton 1B 9 0.333 0.333 0.667 1 3
Luke Scott DH 12 0.600 0.667 0.800 0 1
Adam Jones CF 14 0.286 0.286 0.643 1 3
Matt Wieters C 8 0.000 0.125 0.000 0 0
Lou Montanez LF 2 1.000 1.000 1.000 0 0
Cesar Izturis SS 6 0.250 0.500 0.250 0 1
Total 85 0.299 0.353 0.481 2 11
Yankees vs. Orioles
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 8-1 NYY 13-5 NYY 11-7 NYY:1230-839

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Red Sox manager Terry Francona could have been selected by the Yankees in the 1980 amateur draft.

Yesterday, we took a look at the Yankees’ complete list of first round selections. Aside from the significant number of players who never even made the majors, what jumps out most is that from 1979 to 1989, the Yankees only had two first round selections in the June draft.

Listed below is a chart that displays the player drafted in the Yankees’ forfeited slot along with the corresponding free agent that necessitated the transfer. As you can see, the Yankees actually made out much better in the swap as the teams selecting in their spot made some awful choices. Of course, the Yankees still could have selected an alternative (the best of which are also displayed in the chart), but judging by their track record, not to mention the chaotic front office structure of the 1980s, that’s probably wishful thinking.

Year PK Lost to: Player Selected WAR Comp For: WAR1 Could Have Had:2
1979 25 Dodgers Steve Perry N/A Tommy John 15.1 Chris Brown
1980 22 Expos T. Francona -3.7 Rudy May 6.6 Dan Pleasac
1981 26 Padres Frank Castro NA Dave Winfield 25.6 Mark Langston
1982 22 Reds Scott Jones NA Dave Collins -0.6 David Wells
1983 13 White Sox Joel Davis 0.5 Steve Kemp 1.2 Roger Clemens
1985* 23 Padres Joey Cora 4.5 Ed Whitson -2.5 Randy Johnson
1986 25 Angels Terry Carr NA Al Holland -1.0 Kevin Tapani
1987 23 Rangers Bill Hasselman 2.2 Gary Ward -0.9 Travis Fryman
1988 22 Cardinals John Ericks 0.4 Jack Clark 3.1 Alex Fernandez
1989 15 Dodgers Kiki Jones NA Steve Sax 7.5 Mo Vaughn

1 WAR calculated only for consecutive tenure following related free agent signing.
2 Based on notable players selected shortly after the indicated draft slot.

*Until 1986, baseball also held an amateur draft in January for those college and high school players graduating over the winter. Although the available players were not nearly as talented, an occasional diamond in the rough was found every now and then. One example was Tim Belcher, whom the Yankees uncovered with the first overall selection in secondary phase of the 1984 January draft. Unfortunately for the Yankees, 1984 was also a year in which baseball had a free agent compensation system that allowed teams losing a Type-A player to select an unprotected member of any major league roster. Adding to the team’s misfortune was that the fact that protection lists were due in on January 13, almost a month before the Yankees even signed Belcher. Still, due to a loophole in the system, the Oakland Athletics were able to snatch Belcher from the Yankees when they lost free agent Tom Underwood to the Orioles.

The Yankees eventually filed a protest on the sound logic that they had no means to protect Belcher, a scenario that could not have been the intended by the governing collective bargaining agreement. The Yankees’ argument was clearly valid, but as often was the case at the time, George Steinbrenner was embroiled in a running feud with American League president Lee MacPhail, this time stemming from the events of the previous season’s Pine Tar Game. So, MacPhail gladly seized upon the opportunity to stick it to Steinbrenner by denying the protest and giving the Yankees a supplemental pick in the 1985 June draft instead. The Yankees wound up selecting Anthony Balabon, a pitcher who never made it the majors. Meanwhile, Tim Belcher went on to have a very solid 14 year career.

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