Hughes’ Underlying Performance

(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Last night the Yankees won a very well-played game and outplayed Minnesota in every part of the game for the second straight day. Russell Martin hit two homers, Derek Jeter had two hits and scored two runs, and Robbie Cano had another big game as well. But probably the biggest part of this one was Phil Hughes outing. He allowed one run on two hits and three walks while striking out two over seven frames. But was he as dominant as the line shows?

The answer is no. I saw some writers on Twitter saying how good he looked and one in particular went on to say that it was the best he has looked in over a year. I could maybe get on board with the former comment, but the latter is a bit ridiculous. I think he looked a lot better in his start in Chicago a few weeks back. In that outing, he struck out four, walked none, and probably would have gone more than six innings if it weren’t for the rain.

Back to last night’s start, a look at the peripherals will show that Hughes was playing with fire, for lack of a better term. He posted a GB% of around 30%, an unsustainable BABIP of around .045, only recorded two swinging strikes, and was only sitting at around 92 mph with the fastball until it dipped as the game went on.

Don’t get me wrong, Hughes still worked efficiently, only needing 106 pitches to get through almost eight frames, but he wasn’t dominant against a Jim Thome-less Minnesota lineup that I think he should have begging for mercy (only two guys in last night’s Twins lineup had an OBP over .300!!).

There are definitely good things we can take from this start and maybe it gave Hughes some confidence, but we should approach his next start with skepticism and not expect another game of almost eight innings of one-run ball.


Derek Jeter’s Hot Streak

The Yankees are currently in first place in the American League East, but that’s not what fans are talking about at the moment. They’re not talking about how the Yanks are playing better than the heavily favored Red Sox or about Curtis Granderson’s MVP-caliber season or even Jesus Montero being stuck in Scranton. They are talking about Derek Jeter.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Heading into 2011, I was expecting a bounce back year from Jeter. He was coming off a career low slash line of .270/.340/.370 and even though I had no reason to believe that the aging captain just had a flukey season, as a die-hard Yankee fan, I just wanted to dream. And through the first half of the season Derek gave people a reason to think that he was certainly declining.

In April, he hit .256/.313/.278, in May he hit .274/.338/.371, and in June he was at .239/.314/.304 until getting injured and hitting the 15-day disabled list. While rehabbing in Tampa, he made a slight tweak to his swing, according to the DJ3K documentary that aired on HBO. Jeter did look much better when he came off the DL as he was hitting balls with more authority and to the gaps, kind of like he did in the good old days.

After the All-Star Break and after he got his 3000th hit, he continued to hit. So far in the second half, he is hitting .336/.393/.443 with a wOBA in upper .300′s as opposed to one hovering around .300 as it was in the early part of the season. The answer clearly lies deep within the numbers. If we take a look at the captain’s stats this year as opposed to 2010, one can see that he is hitting more line drives and less ground balls, something that backs up the fact that he is hitting the ball with more authority.

The thing that is so crazy about this is that he hasn’t really changed his approach at the plate. He is being just as aggressive as ever, walking around the same amount, and is swinging through the same amount of pitches. Instead, I think it lies with the way he is hitting the fastball. Last season, he posted the wFB of 1.4 and that is now up to 3.7 this year. With that, his runs above average have gone up with almost every other pitch. I don’t know if he is quicker to the ball or what or if he’s reading pitches better, but whatever it is, it’s working.

What’s going to be interesting to see is whether or not Jeter can sustain this type of performance. He is no doubt red hot right now (.395 BA in last ten games), but can he keep his current season average (.290) through the rest of the season, the playoffs, and beyond 2011. A lot of people thought the Bombers would have a dead weight at shortstop for the next two plus years and that might still be true, but at least this little hot streak will give us something to dream on for the time being.


Yankees Talk Podcast: August 16, 2011

This is our last podcast so we have a bit to talk about. Make sure you listen because at the end, we talk about some changes to the blog going forward. The run time is 31:23. Here are the topics that we discussed:

  1. Standings Recap
  2. Season Predictions
  3. Week Recap
  4. Rotation Talk
  5. Derek Jeter
  6. WWWMW

You can listen to it here.


Yankees Farm Report: August 15, 2011

Recent notes:

  • Gary Sanchez was placed on the disabled list with some sort of hand injury and is likely out for the season.
  • Dellin Betances has been promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton.
  • Ravel Santana broke his ankle in two places and tore some ligaments. He’s out until at least Spring Training of next year.
  • Josh Romanski was demoted from Double-A to High-A Tampa while Kei Igawa was activated from Trenton’s disabled list along with Ray Kruml.
  • Today’s Amateur Draft Signing Day so we’ll probably see a good amount of signings today. Daniel Camarena, 20th round pick, signed. I’m a big fan and here’s a very, very brief Keith Law scouting report. It was also reported that they are close to signing sixth rounder Jake Cave.

Triple-A

The Yankees had both of their games today rained out.

Double-A

The Thunder had a scheduled day off.

High-A

The Yankees had a scheduled day off.

Low-A

Hickory 4 – Charleston 1

Jose Toussen wet 2 for 4 and Ramon Flores, Kevin Mahoney, and Kyle Higashioka were all 1 for 4, Flores doubled, Mahoney scored a run, and Higashioka drove in a run. Eduardo Sosa and Anderson Feliz each turned in hitless performances. On the hill, Shane Greene turned in a solid performance hurling five scoreless innings while allowing five hits, three walked, and striking out six. He also got six grounders as opposed to only one fly ball. Tommy Kahnle didn’t have the same type of night allowing four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out three. Kelving Perez turned in two hitless innings in relief while striking out four.

Short Season-A

The Yankees were off because of their All-Star Break and will not play again until Wednesday.

GCL

GCL Pirates 4 – GCL Yankees 3

Jose Rosario and Austin Jones each had two hits, Rosario tripled and drove in a run and Jones scored a run and Claudio Custodio, Dante Bichette, and Isaias Tejada each added a hit each, Custodio stole a base and scored a run, Bichette doubled and scored a run, and Tejada doubled and drove in a run. Matt Duran also had a nice day going 0 for 2 with two walks and a run driven in. On the bump, Mark Prior got the start and struck out three and walked one in hitless inning. Reynaldo Polanco followed with five innings of three run ball while allowing two hits and three walks while striking out two. Kenedy Agramonte then came on and tossed two perfect innings.


Mailbag Monday: Waivers And Number Two Starter

You can ask a question by going above to the ‘Contact’ tab and sending an email to the given email address.  Make sure you provide your first name. Today there are two questions.

Nate asks: Do you see the Yankees making any waiver claims in the next couple of week and if so, who?

I don’t see the Yankees making any waiver claims because from what I’ve seen up to this point, there aren’t really any fits. Now that’s not to say a player who could be of value won’t hit the market, but I honestly doubt it. Brian Cashman seems very content with the team he has at this point and remember they still have to get Alex Rodriguez back to be at full strength. And that’s not to mention the youngsters, Jesus Montero and Mann Banuelos, who could help the team in September. At this point with this big of a lead, they should just be focused on getting everybody healthy and not exhausting anyone.

Thomas asks: There has been a lot of talk about the Yanks number two starter the past few weeks. Who do you think it is?

I quite frankly hate this topic. Since the Yanks didn’t acquire a top tier starter at the deadline, I feel like after CC Sabathia, everyone else is about equal. Unlike seemingly every Yankee fan and writer, I have not jumped on the Ivan Nova band wagon for the sole purpose that he has turned in one start that says he is a number two. That’s not to say he hasn’t been better than AJ Burnett or Phil Hughes, but he certainly hasn’t been fantastic. I don’t like to label starters until the post season when it’s really necessary. If I had a gun to my head, I would say that it would be CC, Freddy, Bart, Nova, Hughes, Burnett.


Poll Results: Posada Deserved Benching

The results are in and according to the fans, benching Jorge Posada was the right decision. Last Sunday, Posada was told by Girardi that he was going to the ride the bench for an indefinite period of time. Posada currently sports a .237/.314/.387 batting line and that is after a big 3 for 5 day on Saturday, one in which he hit a Grand Slam and drove in six runs. Posada is penciled in for tonight’s game as well so it looks like as long as he’s hitting, he will be the designated hitter. Hopefully, he the benching lit a fire under him and he can get hot for the playoff run.

Make sure you vote on the new poll: Will Jesus Montero be called up before September?


A Few Minutes With Austin ‘Bubba’ Jones

(Courtesy of the Edmonds Woodway Warriors Website)

In the seventh round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, the Yankees took a high school first baseman by the name of Austin ‘Bubba’ Jones. Jones grew up in Seattle, Washington and was regarded as one of the best bats out of the Northwest in this year’s draft class. Bubba just signed recently and is currently playing for the GCL Yankees. He was able to take a little bit of time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Matt Filippi: First of all, I have to ask, how did you get the nickname ‘Bubba?’

Austin Jones: Well I first got the nickname bubba when I was born. My dad said at that time I was a little ball of fat, so he called me bubba! And the nickname has stuck with me in the baseball world so far.

MF: How has the transition been from school and being home with family to being on the road and playing almost every day?

AJ: The transition was pretty quick and easy, and I’m loving it! Leaving home was sad, but its only for a month this trip, so I can slowly ease into the life. But on the field the transition between the games and level of play is taking more time, but hey, it’s baseball and I love it. I’m very blessed!

MF: How did it feel to be drafted by the Yankees with all of the tradition and pride that comes with it?

AJ: It was/is a huge honor to be drafted by such an outstanding organization. Easily the best on and off the field, and the Yankees do everything right. I’m extremely Blessed.

MF: What baseball player did you look up to as a kid and who do you try to model your swing and your game after?

AJ: Growing up as a kid in Seattle, I loved to watch the Mariners. Especially Edgar Martinez. He was a great hitter with power to all fields and had a smooth flawless swing. I would watch the tv and model his swing as a kid!

MF: What’s your approach at the plate?

AJ: I try to hunt for fastballs, and make the pitcher throw my pitch… Obviously. But mechanics wise, I always want to stay inside the ball and smash line drives. I also hit the ball with power wherever it’s pitched.

MF: You did a little catching in high school. Is that something you would consider doing as a pro?

AJ: Catching yes! It was fun being the leader on the diamond, and right now I’m a first baseman. And I will play anywhere the organization wants me to play, I just want to get on the field in any way!

MF: This is the off topic question. If you could have four tickets to any music concert, you have to take one family member, one teammate, one male celebrity, and one female celebrity, what concert do you go to and who do you take?

AJ: Okay, I would get tickets to a Zach brown band concert. I would bring my brother Owen, he loves them. I would bring my career long teammate Derek Callahan. For a male celebrity I would bring Josh Hamilton, and for a female I would bring Olivia Wilde.

I’d like to thank Austin for giving us some of his time and wish him luck the best of luck.


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