Hughes to Start, Joba to Set-Up?

February 3, 2010

Is Chamberlain Heir to the Closer Throne in NY? (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Joel Sherman of the NY Post states that the New York Yankees appear to be set on how to use their two prized young pitchers.

According to Sherman it will be Phil Hughes who will be taking the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation and not Joba Chamberlain as many were expecting. Chamberlain looks headed to the bullpen to be the set-up man for Mariano Rivera and perhaps getting him ready to take over once the future Hall of Famer finally hangs up his nasty cutter.

One thing that confused me a bit was this statement from Sherman:

Because aren’t the 2010 Yanks much better if both Joba and Hughes are in the bullpen? Think about it.

I thought about it and yes, the idea of it would be magical. But you know what? Eventually the Yankees have to decide what exactly it is they are going to do with these guys. Moving them in and out of the rotation and holding them to silly “rules” or pitch counts is only going to hurt them in the long run. Figure out what they are best fit for, make your decision and stick to it.

I analyzed the move of Joba to the rotation last June and Phil Hughes bullpen vs. starter debate last July over at BDD.

If you look based on numbers, both are best fit to be relievers. As a starter Joba loses a lot of velocity and doesn’t appear to have the stamina to get far into games (of course this could be attributed to being bounced around from the rotation to the bullpen). Then Hughes seems to lack the ability to adjust his approach as he faces hitters a second and third time through the lineup.

Either way you slice it, the Yankees need to figure these two out now before its too late and two fantastic arms are not allowed to live up to their potential and essentially wasted.


Diamond Cutter Scouting Report: Curtis Granderson

December 8, 2009

Granderson is a premier leadoff hitter (Keith Allison/Flickr).

Name: Curtis Granderson
Number: 28
Position: Center Field
Born: 3/16/81
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Height: 6′1″
Weight: 185
Debut: 9/13/04

Scouting Report: Granderson has made a name for himself as a six-hole hitter in the lead off spot. He has a short, quick stroke and loves fastballs up in the zone. Drives the ball hard very well from left-center on around to right. He struggles mightily versus left handed pitching and tends to have a tough time with breaking stuff. These two items cause him to strikeout way too much, especially for a lead off hitter. He does run very well which helps his lead off spot by stealing bases and stretching hits into an extra base.

Granderson flows so naturally out in center by using his speed to generate good jumps and taking good routes to the ball. Does better going back and side to side than he does coming straight in as he tends to be a little late on balls in front of him as his first instinct is usually to head straight back. He also has a pretty good arm which helps him cut down runners in the gap.


Reinventing Hughes

July 12, 2009
Hughes has pitched his share of big time games (firebrandal/Flickr).

Hughes has pitched his share of big time games (firebrandal/Flickr).

It wasn’t that long ago that Phillip Hughes was one of baseball’s biggest and most highly touted prospects. Not only did he have a stellar track record as an amateur and minor league pro, but he also had an incredible arsenal of pitches at his disposal. He was every organization’s dream.

But after an up-and-down career as a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, it was becoming more and more difficult for the young right hander to find a spot on the big league club. That was until they Yankees needed a new set-up guy.

There has never been any question that Hughes has the stuff to be a big time major league pitcher. But for some reason he has never been able to grasp the consistency to stick in the Yankees rotation. Here’s a look at how Hughes has broken down as a game has gone on…

(click here to continue reading on Baseball Daily Digest…)

Matthew Whipps is a writer for Baseball Daily Digest. If you would like to contact him via email you can reach him at whipps15[at]gmail.com.


The Mysterious Disappearing Joba

June 14, 2009

It wasn’t too long ago that all we heard was “Joba, Joba, Joba.” You couldn’t turn on ESPN without them drooling over the thick-bodied young righty and how good he was and how much better he was going to be. Then a funny thing happened. Joba stopped being Joba.

Before we dive into looking at what is wrong with Joba Chamberlain, let’s take a look at my scouting report I wrote on him in the spring of 2008…

(click here to continue reading on Baseball Daily Digest)

Matthew Whipps is a writer for Baseball Daily Digest and co-writes the new blog The Minnesota Sports Guys. If you would like to contact him via email you can reach him at whipps15[at]gmail.com


News and Notes: “Damn Yankees”

January 14, 2009
Teixeira was the cherry on top of the expensive winter for the Yankees (Rod/Flickr).

Teixeira was the cherry on top of the expensive winter for the Yankees (Rod/Flickr).

• After a spending spree this winter by the New York Yankees, more and more owners are coming out stating that they believe baseball should institute a salary cap. While this is a good idea in theory, it is too little too late for baseball ever establishing a cap. With a strong players union that will never agree to such a thing, the pie in the sky dreams of a cap will never become a reality in our lifetime. I do think that a salary floor needs to be set so teams are forced to spend at least a certain amount of money rather than pocketing any revenue sharing they may receive. This will help keep things more competitive and help prevent teams from tanking a season before it even starts. We have seen signs of that recently and is not fair to fans of that team who pay good money and spend time following them. It is a mess that we all just have to deal with.

Millar is as good a leader in the clubhouse as they get (keithallisonphoto.com).

Millar is as good a leader in the clubhouse as they get (keithallisonphoto.com).

• Not only are the Cincinnati Reds in the market for an outfielder, they are also on the lookout for a pinch-hitter who can provide some power for them in late innings. Players mentioned were Richie Sexson, Daryle Ward, Kevin Millar, Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Sweeney and Rich Aurilia. While none of those names jump off the page at you, some are obviously better fits than others. While Sexson’s name bring with it a lot of past power and success, it also brings a big question mark due to his inconsistencies the past couple of seasons. Of that group I would have to go with Kevin Millar (I’m a big Millar guy). Not only does Millar still have some good pop in his bat (20 homers last season with Baltimore) but he is also a fantastic clubhouse guy and leader. If the Reds are serious about putting together a contender, this is the type of guy they are going to need.

As the Dodgers welcome in new reliever Guillermo Mota today, they prepare to part ways with Andruw Jones one way or another. While adding more depth to their bullpen with Mota it appears as if Jones’ time with the Dodgers is officially over. As Thursday draws near he will either be out the door via trade or via a cut. I discussed Jones and his fall from grace in my article “Deconstructing Andruw Jones” and tried to get to the bottom of his sudden collapse from super stardom.

I still think Jones has something left in the tank and after seeing him recently, is in fantastic shape. I also still believe that his best bet is returning to the Braves. Not only would the fans welcome him back with open arms, he has a history there and won’t feel the “big city” pressure he did in L.A. Hopefully he can regain some of that magic from his career prior to 2007 when it all started to crumble.

Byrd will most likely join a contender this summer (DDanzig/Flickr).

Byrd will most likely join a contender this summer (DDanzig/Flickr).

• Apparently Paul Byrd thinks that he can come and go as he pleases after it was announced Byrd would sit out the first half of the 2009 season. Claiming he wants to spend more time with his family (what players don’t?) he said he will bypass some nice offers on the table to come back this summer. From a front office standpoint, GMs have to love this with the option of getting a solid, fresh number five starter down the stretch. On the other hand I think Byrd’s potential teammates might not like him just rolling into town and joining the party so late in the season. We will have to wait and see how this all comes together this summer, but rest assured there will be many teams lining up for him.

• The “News and Notes” articles will now end with a link to a story elsewhere on the net that I find interesting and want to share with you. This is a good way to broaden everyone’s horizons, show some love to my fellow writers and maybe even help you find another site you’d like to work into your rotation. Of course without cutting me out of it.

Today’s is from one of my favorite sites “The Hardball Times” where columnist Chris Jaffe discusses just how incredible Rickey Henderson truly was in his article “The Wonder of Rickey.” I was a huge fan of Rickey growing up as he revolutionized the lead off spot and set the bar incredibly high for those following him.

Congrats Rickey.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | Facebook

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News and Notes: “Rafael Fur-real?”

December 22, 2008
Furcal continues to spin his agents wrong doings (Malingering/Flickr).

Furcal continues to spin his agent's wrong doings (Malingering/Flickr).

• The Pittsburgh Pirates have reached a three-year deal with catcher Ryan Doumit that will lock him up through his arbitration years. Last year Doumit had a fantastic year out of nowhere hitting .318/.356/.501 with 15 homers and 69 RBI. While my former MVN co-worker Cory Humes at Pirate Revolution believes the Pirates should trade Doumit (or hear his podcast about it), I personally believe that Doumit is an example of the type of player they need to begin to build around. With players like Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez coming up through the system as well other bright youngsters the Bucs need to start now rather than continuing to hit the “reset” button. I do however agree 100% with Humes that the Pirates should sign slugger Adam Dunn as part of the solution.

You know what you will get with Dunn (SD Dirk/Flickr).

You know what you will get with Dunn (SD Dirk/Flickr).

• Speaking of the giant slugger Adam Dunn, why aren’t more teams interested in bringing him aboard this winter? Yes I know he had a strikeout rate of 25.9% last season and yes I know he won’t be winning any Gold Gloves in the outfield any time soon, but who couldn’t use his presence in the lineup? While his career average is .247, more importantly his career on-base is .381 and career slugging at .518. Plus you know he will be healthy and you will get 40 homers and 100+ RBI. So why do I keep hearing about teams not too interested in him or preferring a player who is a head case and will most likely miss 20-40 games a year? I would personally rather have Dunn or Pat Burrell over both Bobby Abreu and Milton Bradley. Call me crazy.

• I’ve already covered the Mark Teixeira saga enough on here by discussing where his options are as well as my annoyance about all the back and forth about who’s in and who’s out. I really hope Jon Heyman’s report on Teixeira’s decision coming by Christmas day is true as I can’t take much more. I think the scorecard has the Orioles, Nationals, Red Sox, Bears, Knicks and three teams from the WNBA as the top contenders.

• The New York Yankees and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang have avoided salary arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract thus insuring the Yankees the first ever 11-man starting rotation heading into the 2009 season. Awesome.

• And finally more on the Furcal vs. Braves situation as Furcal continues to lie about his agent’s dirty tricks. Even our poll on this site last week showed 100% of people believe Furcal and his agents screwed the Braves. Just stop talking about it Furcal, we know its not true.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

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Where Oh Where Will You Go?

December 16, 2008
Teixeira's new home isn't as black and white as you may think. (Rod the Rabid Rodent/Flickr)

His new home isn't as black and white as you may think. (Rod the Rabid Rodent/Flickr)

Before the ink could even dry on C.C. Sabathia’s new monster contract from the New York Yankees, teams immediately turned their attention to the best bat available in this year’s free agent frenzy. In what has become one of the most memorable winters in recent years, Mark Teixeira’s name has been on the lips of many suitors. But it appears as if it is all about to come to an end as WEEI reports today that Karl Ravech of ESPN says we are nearing a dramatic conclusion.

Ravech also reports that the main five players in the Teixeira sweepstakes from the beginning – the Angels, Orioles, Nationals, Red Sox and Yankees – are the same ones who are in it today as they continue trying to one-up themselves with their offers. These offers are landing Big Teix in the $22 – $28 million a year range. So no matter where he chooses, he’ll be doing pretty well for himself.

So with all the offers essentially the same, I thought we’d look at all the teams involved as well as the pros and cons for each of them. Below is a look at these options and we’ll wrap things up with my final analysis of what I believe will happen. These are listed alphabetically and in no particular order:

Angels Reported Offer: 8 years, $160 million
The Angels may be the most desperate of the group as if they lose Teixeira, they lose the biggest piece of their offense. They are able to offer him a very strong chance at the post season as they have dominated the AL West for many years. Of course on the down side, Teixeira has said he wants to play out east as he is originally from Maryland. But again, the Angels need to sign him or they will be in trouble.

Nationals Reported Offer: 8 years, $160 million
Really all the Nationals have to offer Teixeira is money (that I’m not quite sure where they are getting from), the fact that it is near where he grew up and hope. Distant, far away hope that someday (hopefully within the 8 years of his contract) the Washington Nationals can put together a winning club. Of course this leads into the con and the fact that the Nationals can’t really show any progress towards ever winning.

Orioles Reported Offer: 7 years, $140-$150 million
While the Orioles may not be able to offer themselves as an instant contender in 2009, they can offer something none of the other teams can: home. Teixeira grew up in Maryland rooting for the Orioles and has said numerous times how he would love to play where he calls home. As a con they won’t be an instant contender but they do have a great base of youngsters who they can use to build around Teixeira.

Red Sox Reported Offer: 8 years, $160-$200 million
The biggest pros for the Red Sox are they have a great chance for the post season as well as most likely having the deepest pockets of all the teams. The Red Sox can dangle the fact that Teixeira will have a lot of protection in the lineup with the likes of Ortiz, Youkilis and Drew. Of course what happens in Interleague play or even the World Series when the Sox have to choose between Big Papi or Big Teix at first base against NL squads?

Yankees Reported Offer: 8 years, $160-$200 million
Their case is pretty much the exact same as the Red Sox have regarding a chance at the post season, a ton of money and lineup protection. Another thing both these clubs have in common is a less than patient fan base. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter for the first month or two of the season and it would be interesting to see how Yankee and Red Sox fans treat their club’s newest addition. Not that this is a deterrent, but it’s something to think about.

Now that we’ve taken a peek at all the clubs involved as well as a few pros and cons for each, I believe that we can narrow Teixeira’s choice down to a team that is the best fit for him. In my opinion we can eliminate the Nationals based on the fact that they are going nowhere and probably won’t have a sniff of the playoffs within Teixeira’s potential 8 year contract. That leaves the three heavy hitters and Baltimore. If we go based on playing for a contender we would eliminate Baltimore but if we go based off playing out east we eliminate the Angels.

That brings us down to Boston and New York. It’s funny, it seems as if we always come down to Boston and New York. Both are contenders every season and both seemingly have an endless money tree planted somewhere in the front offices. With that being said, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Mark Teixeira will sign with the Baltimore Orioles. I know many of you probably disagree, but he keeps on mentioning how he wants to go home and play for the team he cheered on growing up. Plus the fact that he would instantly become the franchise player the Orioles have been searching for ever since Cal Ripken retired. He would be the center piece of a great young franchise that has a fan base begging for a chance to reach the playoffs again. It’s a perfect fit.

Now if I were Andy MacPhail, I would be doing everything possible to tug at Teixeira’s heart strings. I’d have current players like Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis and legends like Cal Ripken and Jim Palmer on the phone with him as much as possible. They should have courted him and courted him hard.

After all, franchise changing players like Mark Teixeira aren’t always available. When you have a chance to acquire them and beat out giant markets like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, you have to do it.

The Orioles have to do it.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

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