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Pitching Prospect Philip Hughes Makes the Yankees Take Notice
Monday, February 27, 2006
Jorge Posada labeled Hughes the "best arm in camp"

The Yankees aren’t exactly a team known for their prolific farm system, but after seeing Cano rise up through the ranks it looks as if the club may be taking a bigger interest in their potential stars. 19-year-old righty pitcher Philip Hughes — a former first-round draft pick for the Yanks — struck out 93 batters in 86 1/3 innings pitched with Tampa Bay and Charleston last year, and his talent doesn’t seem to wane even when he’s pitted against best batters in the game. Hughes has been pitching to the likes of A-Rod, Giambi and Posada in spring training practice and was compared to a young Roger Clemens by an impressed Jason Giambi. Despite playing in single A last season, Hughes has certainly proved himself ready for time in AAA Columbus, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing Philip in the big leagues very soon.


posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, February 27, 2006   0 comments
MLB Team Profiles: Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners

2005 Record: .426 (69-83), Last place in AL West

2004 Record: .389 (63-99)

Who’s Out: Ryan Franklin (P), Jeff Nelson (P), Pokey Reese (SS)

Who’s In: Kenji Johjima (C), Carl Everett (DH), Matt Lawton (RF), Jarrod Washburn (P), Marcos Carvajal (P)

Notes: The past two seasons were rough for the Mariners, but they made some strong additions to their roster late last season and this winter. Felix Hernandez, who was a top pitching prospect, was brought up last season and lived up to his hype, throwing 97 MPH fastballs past the best hitters in the league. He’ll be back this season, and he’ll start the season just a few days shy of his twentieth birthday. Former Angels’ lefty Jarrod Washburn will also offer support to the starting pitching rotation; he had a good season in ’05 with a 3.20 ERA and 177.3 innings pitched. The most exciting addition to the team, though, comes from across the ocean in the form of Japanese superstar catcher Kenji Jojima. Jojima won seven Gold Gloves in Japan and has a .299 career batting average, and his MLB debut is much anticipated throughout the league. With these new additions, the Mariners have a good chance of getting back to the .500 mark this year, though I wouldn’t peg them for any pennants just yet.

Next Up: Detroit Tigers


posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, February 27, 2006   1 comments
Spring Training Report: Pavano Off to DL, Sheffield Has Back Spasms, Leiter Impresses Torre
Sunday, February 26, 2006
The Yankees have reported for duty in Florida, and though they’re just a week or so into spring training the drama has already begun. After spending the better part of last season on the disabled list, it looks like Carl Pavano will start the 2006 season there as well. Disappointingly, Pavano’s back has continued to plague him throughout the winter and the start of spring training, and Torre has declared that he is “not counting” on Pavano being healthy enough to start the season. For what it’s worth, Pavano has said that his back is not as bad as it was last season, and he is optimistic that he will be able to pitch well this season. "It's progressing,” Pavano said of his recuperation. “It feels a lot better. I want to make sure there's no setbacks after what I went through last year."

Sheffield also had some trouble this week, and not just the “I feel duped” emotional kind. Like Pavano, Sheff has been dealing with some back pain that caused him to miss workouts today. Sheff blames his back pain on a bit of over-zealousness, saying that he just needed some rest after taking extra batting practice this weekend. Luckily, Sheff’s back spasms shouldn’t keep him down for more than a couple days.

Florida has been good to some Yankee players, though. Al Leiter, for one, has been tearing it up in practice and impressing Joe Torre along the way. Leiter, who opted for a minor league contract with the Yankees rather than retirement this year, has been pitching well as a non-roster invitee. Torre noted that there is no room on the roster for Leiter right now, but having an extra lefty reliever can never hurt—especially if our starters are heading for the DL already.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Sunday, February 26, 2006   0 comments
Sheffield Likely to Remain a Yankee in 2007
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
When Sheffield reported to Spring Training this week, he received a warm welcome from his teammates — and a little gift in the form of peace of mind from Brian Cashman. Cash let Sheffield know that the Yankees were pleased with his performance and would be exercising the option on Sheff’s contract for 2007, barring any unforeseen injuries. Sheff has played very well in the Bronx despite injuries plaguing his shoulder, thigh, knees and thumb, and spent the winter “recovering” (AKA vacationing across the globe).

Besides the befefits of money and security, the contract extension is great news for Sheff's career stats, as it makes hitting the 500 home run mark all the more possible. He currently has 449, just 51 shy of the benchmark, and after hitting 36 and 34 in the 2004 and 2005 seasons respectively, I see no reason for Sheff to fall short. Interestingly, A-Rod’s home run count is up to 429 and could very well hit his 500th in the same season as his teammate. 2007 could prove to be quite the home run derby…

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, February 22, 2006   0 comments
MLB Profiles: Pittsburgh Pirates
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Pittsburgh Pirates

2005 Record: .414 (67-95), Last place in NL Central

2004 Record: .447 (72-89)

Who’s Out: Dave Williams (P), Ty Wigginton (INF), Joe Roa (P), Alfredo Amezaga (SS), Brian Meadows (RP), Jose Mesa (RP), Rick White (RP)

Who’s In: Jeromy Burnitz (RF), Roberto Hernandez (RP), Joe Randa (3B), Sean Casey (1B), Chad Blackwell (P), Clayton Hamilton (P), Manager Jim Tracy, Third Base Coach Jeff Cox, Bullpen Coach Bobby Cuellar, Pitching Coach Jim Colborn, Bench Coach Jim Lett

Notes: New manager Jim Tracy has had success with the Dodgers in the past, and the Pirates are hoping he can lead the team to their first winning season since the early nineties. In a move that brings some hope to the team’s plight, Pirates ownership boosted the payroll an extra $13 million this off-season, which allowed them to sign seasoned pros like Burnitz, Randa and Pittsburg native Sean Casey. The Pirates will be starting the season with some proven veterans to lead their young core, like last year’s breakout pitcher Zack Duke and the still-improving Oliver Perez.

Next up: Seattle Mariners


posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 21, 2006   2 comments
MLB Team Profiles: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Monday, February 20, 2006
Tampa Bay Devil Rays

2005 Record: .414 (67-95) Last place in AL East

2004 Record: .435 (70-91)

Who’s Out: Roberto Alomar (2B), Danny Bautista (RF), Alex Gonzalez (3B), Joe Borowski (P)

Who’s In: Manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Mike Butcher, hitting coach Steve Henderson, bench coach Bill Evers, bullpen coach Bobby Ramos, first base coach George Hendrick; Sean Burroughs (3B), Ty Wigginton (INF); Pitchers Travis Harper, Jesus Colome, Dan Miceli, Shinji Mori, Lance Carter, Chad Harville.

Notes: The Rays are starting the 2006 season with a lot of new faces, most notably former Angels bench coach Joe Maddon. Maddon and the Rays didn’t make any flashy moves this winter, and it seems that they are wisely playing the waiting game while their young core grows (the Rays are remarkably young – the average age of the players on the 40-man roster is 26.68!). Tampa Bay might not be contenders in the immediate future, but they have numerous prospects getting primed for their turns as Devil Rays stars. Outfielder Johnny Gomes has performed very well for the Rays when called up from the minors, and Joey Gathright has the speed and average to make him a potentially stellar leadoff man. The Rays also have pitching prospects working in the minor leagues, and any of these guys could serve as the foundation for a better Tampa Bay team or trade bait for bigger stars in years to come.


posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, February 20, 2006   0 comments
Kevin Brown, My Personal Whipping Boy, Retires
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Baseball fans the world around can breathe a sigh of relief today: Kevin Brown will not be hurling balls with the MLB any longer. Brown’s agent Scott Boras (how many clients does that bastard have?) cited Brown’s unrelenting back problems as the reason for retirement.

I’ve used Kevin Brown as my whipping boy for the past two seasons, and this was not undeserved. Each time a batter got the better of him, I groaned, because Brown never seemed to be able to get it back together after a slipup. I always felt like he was giving up after the first hit to go by him. Seeing his surly face on the mound reminded me of his fist-smashing roid-fueled rampage, and I’m convinced his bad attitude in the field was bringing the Yankees down. His performance with the Yankees was abysmal; he finished 2004 with a 4.09 ERA and left 2005 at 6.50. And who can forget his contribution to the 2004 ALCS vs. Boston?! Grrrrr…..

The truth, though, is that before Kevin Brown was a Yankee, he had proved himself to be a very dominating and capable pitcher. Even with his hideous numbers in New York, Kevin is retiring from a nineteen-year career with a 211-144 record and a 3.28 ERA. He was a 6-time all-star, has pitched 17 shut-outs and 72 complete games, and was impressive enough to be the highest paid player in the MLB at one point. I don’t know why that Kevin Brown didn’t show up in New York, but I’m glad he’s retiring before he can do any more damage to the Yankees or his own stats.

Thanks for being my whipping boy, Kevin - - here's to hoping no one replaces you in 2006.
posted by Yankees Chick @ Sunday, February 19, 2006   5 comments
MLB Team Profiles: Colorado Rockies
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Today I'm continuing my 30-part MLB preview

Colorado Rockies

2005 Record: .414 (67-95), last place in NL West

2004 Record: .420 (68-96)

Who's Out: Todd Greene (C), Dan Miceli (RP), Jamey Wright (P)
Who’s New: Jamey Carroll (INF), Josh Fogg (P)

Notes: I hate to break it to those faithful fans saying rosary prayers for the Rockies, but it doesn’t look like they are setting up for a takeover of the NL west this year — although anything is possible in that division. The Rockies made very few moves during the off-season, and blockbuster moves they most certainly were not. 32-year-old Carroll spent the last four years with the Expos-cum-Nationals, and aside from a promising first year, he’s been average at best. He does offer the Rockies some flexibility, though, as he has experience at second base, shortstop, and third. 29-year-old Fogg pitched with the Pirates for four seasons as both a starter and a reliever, and despite relatively high ERA and WHIP numbers the Rockies are hopeful that he will do well enough to possibly compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Shortstop Clint Barmes should also be available for the complete 2006 season—as long as he’s not heaving any more deer meat over his shoulders this winter—and with his talent, he could rival Helton for star of the team.

Next up: Tampa Bay Devil Rays


posted by Yankees Chick @ Saturday, February 18, 2006   0 comments
Yankees Chick on Baseball Geeks
Check out the latest podcast from the guys over at Baseball Geeks - today's topics include Spring Training, the USA WBC team, AL West prediction and a Yankees update from yours truly (approx 18 minutes in). The Baseball Geeks put together great podcasts, take a listen and let them know what you think!
posted by Yankees Chick @ Saturday, February 18, 2006   1 comments
MLB Team Profiles: Kansas City Royals
Friday, February 17, 2006
Welcome to part 1 of my thirty-part “I Can’t Wait for Baseball” preview! In the coming weeks, I’ll be featuring each MLB team individually and highlighting their off season moves and speculating on their 2006 chances. The teams will be featured in ascending order according to their 2005 standings.

Kansas City Royals

2005 Record: .346 (56-106), last place in AL Central and MLB

2004 Record: .358 (58-104)

Who’s Out: Pitchers Jonah Bayliss, Jose Lima, and Chris Demaria; Matt Diaz (OF)

Who’s New: Reggie Sanders (RF), Doug Mientkiewicz (1B), Mark Grudzielanek (2B); Esteban German (IF); Pitchers Elmer Dressens, Joe Mays, Bobby Madritsch, and Scott Elarton.

Notes: Last year, Royals starters had a combined ERA of 6.00, the worst in club history. The good news with numbers like that is that there is nowhere to go but up, and while new additions like Mays and Madritsch aren’t necessarily capable of single-handedly turning the team around, the Royals’ pitching is better off this year. The Royals’ infield has also improved, and they have good depth with benchmen like Matt Stairs, who can play both first base and outfield and hit .275 last year, and speedy infielder Esteban German. They also have a new uniform for 2006, so if all else fails on the field the fans can gander at the fashion…

Stay tuned for part 2, where I'll feature the Colorado Rockies


posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, February 17, 2006   0 comments
Yankees, Sosa, Clemens: What’s Going on This Week?
Thursday, February 16, 2006

The 2006 season is just weeks away from launch-time and there’s much to discuss! I apologize for the lack of updates as of late, but your Yankees Chick has been laid up with a kidney infection (which essentially feels like Babe Ruth smacked me in the kidney with a Louisville Slugger), but I’ll make it up to you with a comprehensive one-stop-shop review:

Sammy Sosa: Not only are the Yankees most certainly not interested in old Sammy (pish-posh to those rumors, I say!), it looks like Sammy will be making his miserable 2005 season in Baltimore his last in the majors. After turning down a $500,000 offer from the Nationals on Wednesday, Sammy’s agent admitted that Slammin’ Sammy will almost certainly bid the MLB farewell. Sammy has also not expressed any interest in playing in next month’s WBC, but Dominican Republic manager Manny Acta has said that he’ll be keeping a spot open for him in hopes he’ll change his tune.

Roger Clemens: We’ve been discussing Clemens future for months now, but the latest clue as to whether or not Clemens will continue to play in the MLB in 2006 comes from beyond the grave. On Tuesday, Roger revealed that his mother had expressed wishes for him to retire shortly before she died last September, leading many fans and journalists to fear that his retirement was ever more imminent. Clemens has made it clear that he will not make any decisions until the WBC has ended, and if he opts to stick with the MLB for another year, he’ll have plenty of choices: the Astros, Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox are all interested.

Johnny Damon: New York’s newest big-name boy won’t have to feel too lonely in the Yankees’ clubhouse this spring: Ex A’s teammate Jason Giambi will be hanging out in the locker right next to his.

Scott Erickson: The Yanks signed this 38-year-old righty pitcher to a minor league deal worth $15,000 per month, or $500,000 per year if he gets added to the 40-man roster. Scott had some good years in the early 1990’s with the Twins, but his recent years have been far from impressive. In 19 games with the Dodgers last year, Scott sustained a weak 6.02 ERA and walked 25 batters; he struck out just 12. Cashman noted that Erickson will “somewhat of an insurance policy” in the unfortunate (but seemingly unavoidable) case that one of our starters suffers an injury.

Spring Training: Football is officially over, and baseball is one step closer to being back in the limelight: Our pitchers and catchers have already reported to Florida, where workouts will begin tomorrow. The Yanks haven’t added any new starting pitchers to the roster this off season, but the bullpen is loaded with new faces like Kyle Farnsworth, Octavio Dotel, and Mike Myers. Jeter, A-Rod and the rest of the crew will join the pitchers and catchers in Florida next Tuesday, and the first spring training game against the Phillies is just two weeks away….


posted by Yankees Chick @ Thursday, February 16, 2006   1 comments
Yankees Add Darrell Rasner to Bullpen
Monday, February 13, 2006

With the advent of spring training just days away, the Yanks added one more arm to their bullpen this weekend. Righty reliever Darrell Rasner was picked up off waivers from the Nationals, and the Yanks booted Jason Anderson back down the minors to make room on the roster for their new acquisition. Twenty-five year old Rasner spent most of last season playing AA ball, but maintained a 3.68 ERA after being called up to play with the Nat’s in September.


posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, February 13, 2006   1 comments
Chacon and Yankees Settle Sans Arbitration
Saturday, February 11, 2006
With a hearing all set to take place Monday, the Yankees and pitcher Shawn Chacon managed to avoid arbitration by agreeing on a salary at the eleventh hour. The official figure has not yet been released, but Chacon’s 2006 salary is rumored to be about $3.6 million, half a million more that the Yankees’ original offer and $550 thousand less than Chacon’s desired $4.15 million.

Now that Chacon’s salary has been settled, the Yanks can go forth into spring training with a new focus: hammering down their starting pitching rotation. They could potentially run with a six-man rotation - - Johnson, Mussina, Chacon, Pavano, Wright and Wang - - but depending on how things go in Florida next month it’s possible that one of those men (guess who) could be moved to the pen.

posted by Yankees Chick @ Saturday, February 11, 2006   1 comments
WBC New and Notes: Who’s In, Who’s Out and Who to Watch
Friday, February 10, 2006
The first World Baseball Classic is just three weeks away, and the action is heating up already. Will A-Rod play? Can the U.S. top the D.R? Will there be any juicing controversy? Here are the highlights:

Just Say No: The International Baseball Federation announced that they will be testing for performance enhancing drugs during the WBC. They will be randomly testing eighty players before the competition begins, and will also randomly select players from each team after each game of the competition. The penalty for using will be a two-year ban from international competition, but major league players will not be penalized by the MLB.

Mistaken Identity: No matter what the roster may say, A’s pitcher Danny Haren will not be playing for the Netherlands in the WBC. As we all know, WBC rules dictate that a player must have familial ties to a country in order to represent their team, but despite the fact that Haren’s father is 100% Irish and his mother 100% Mexican, his name popped up on the Netherlands’ roster last week. Perhaps the Dutch were reaching a bit too far in trying to fill out their roster.

Dropping Like Flies! Barry Bonds has pulled out, saying he owes it to the Giants to be healthy and ready to roll in April. Injury-prone John Smoltz and Nomar Garciaparra have also decided to try to spare their respective teams any potential damage the WBC could cause, and though Andy Pettitte hasn’t officially pulled out, he has admitted that it is likely. The latest drop-out rumor, surprisingly, focuses on P.C.-friendly A-Rod. Personally, I’d be surprised if he backed out after all the “will he or won’t he” hoopla, but stranger things have happened.

Super Bowl Ad: I was not a fan of the superimposed flags on the players’ faces. Creepy.

National Pride: It appears that the WBC will likely come down to two teams, and bettors are giving the Dominican a slight edge over the U.S. If it does come down to those two, the games will be packed with talent and incredible to watch. I’d give the Dominican a slight edge myself, if only due to the fact that they have a history of strong national pride and identity. I foresee the U.S. team holding back slightly in order to stay in shape for the upcoming MLB season.

Keep An Eye on Japan: The Japanese team will be coming into the competition with some smoking hot pitching in Shunsuke Watanabe and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Watanabe went 15-4 with an 2.17 ERA last year, and is famous for his "submarine" syle delivery. Matsuzaka, who we may see in the MLB someday, averaged more than 144 pitches per outing last year (!) and pitched three shut-out games with Seibu last year. I expect to see them top China, Tapei and Korea easily in round one.


posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, February 10, 2006   1 comments
Update: Yankees and Chacon Heading for Arbitration
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Although the Yanks were able to settle on a contract quickly for Aaron Small, coming to terms with Shawn Chacon is proving to be a bit trickier. Chacon filed for $4.15 million after his successful half-season with the Yanks last year (he went 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA), about $1.7 million more than his 2005 salary. The Yankees countered back with a $3.1 million dollar offer, and the two sides were not able to agree on a happy medium. Chacon and the Yanks will go to a hearing next Monday where independent arbitrators will hear both sides and settle on a salary they deem fair to both Chacon and the Yanks.
posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, February 08, 2006   2 comments
He’s Back! Stottlemyer Will Join Yogi Bera, Reggie Jackson and Whitey Ford For Spring Training in Florida
Pitching coach extraordinaire Mel Stottlemyre will be back with the Yanks this spring, despite saying “adios” to Steinbrenner last October after Steinbrenner’s incessant “second-guessing” of Mel and his coaching had finally reached a breaking point. Even though he won’t be coming off the bench to chat with pitchers on the mound during next year’s World Series (cross your fingers that we’ll BE in the World Series), he will still be a part of the 2006 Yankees. Mel let both Torre and Cashman know early on that he would like to still be a part of the organization, and when Cashman extended a spring training invitation to the coach last month he immediately agreed.

"Mel told me that he'd always be interested in staying around. I talked to the Boss about it. He thought it was a good idea. Mel thought it was a good idea. Everybody basically felt: Let's continue the relationship. Mel did a tremendous job here for a long time and provides a lot of valuable insight. So it's nice to have him as part of the support system as we move forward." - - Brian Cashman

The Yankees are due to report to spring training in just over one week!
posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, February 08, 2006   0 comments
Pettitte Due Millions in Backloaded Salary; Yankees Say “We Can Afford That!”
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Andy: I know NY is no Texas, but it looks like you had fun! Come on back!

While Clemens is still in the front of every Yankees fan’s mind, another Astro pitcher could be an even more realistic possibility for the 2006 season – or part of it, anyway. When Pettitte signed with the Astros in 2004 he agreed to a “backloaded” contract, a scenario that allowed the Astros to pay Pettitte a smaller salary for his first season followed by increasingly larger salaries in subsequent seasons. After getting $5.5 million in 2004 and $8.5 million for the 2005 season, Pettitte is due a mind-blowing $17.5 million dollars for the 2006 season, a price the Astros may not want to pay if their team isn’t in contention for the playoffs. If the Astros aren’t doing well enough to warrant playoff speculation by the trade deadline, the Yankees may try to swoop in on the opportunity to take Pettitte and his huge contract of the Astros’ hands. Regardless of how the Yankees or Astros would feel about such a trade, the decision will ultimately rest in Pettitte’s hands, as he does have a no-trade clause in the contract. Depending on where his boss/buddy Clemens ends up and what the Yankees record is come summer, Yankee fans may be able to dust off the ol’ Pettitte jerseys someday…
posted by Yankees Chick @ Sunday, February 05, 2006   2 comments
Ballpark Index Statistic: Who Has The Edge?
Thursday, February 02, 2006
As anyone who has seen a lefty send a ball sailing over the right field wall in Fenway or watched a slugger struggle to get a home run in RFK can attest, each MLB ballpark’s design offers unique challenges and benefits to the players gracing its fields. Ballparks are as unique as the teams they host, and with the exception of details like the distance between the bases, each team has the freedom to build their stadium however they please - - whether that means putting a flagpole smack in the middle of the outfield or bringing in right field wall. Variations like these not only allow the park to have distinctive appearances but make a huge impact on the players. Parks with short left fields, for instance, will allow righty batters to hit more home runs, while stadiums with massive outfields are more likely to slow down a slugger’s power numbers. Ballpark Index, AKA Ballpark Factor or BPF, is a statistic that quantifies the advantages or disadvantages that each stadium gives to the players; this is where the terms “hitters park” and “pitchers park” come from.

The calculation for BPF is quite involved and takes many factors into consideration, such as the natural propensity for a team to do better in their home stadium than on the road and the fact that teams don’t have to face their own pitchers. I will post the complete equation in the Yankees Chick Glossary tomorrow, but for brevity’s sake suffice it to say that the index compares a team’s performance in their home stadium to their performance on the road, calculating the number of runs created and the number of runs allowed. By comparing a team’s road numbers and home numbers, we can see how a stadium is affecting a team’s ability to score runs. A BPF of 100 is considered neutral; in other words, the ballpark offers no distinct advantage to pitchers or hitters. A BPF greater than 100 is considered to be a hitters park, and a BPF less than 100 offers an advantage to the pitcher.

Several statisticians have calculated their own BPFs, but the one I am using here is from Bill James, sabermetric extraordinaire. James used data from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons to calculate these indices, except in the cases of RFK (the Expos have played just one season there) and Petco (the Padres have played only two seasons there).

posted by Yankees Chick @ Thursday, February 02, 2006   2 comments
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