Friday, February 27, 2009

Posada Crushes the Ball in Home Debut

Jorge Posada looked sharp yesterday in the Yankees home debut, which they won 5-1 over Tampa Bay to improve to 2-0 this spring. In the third inning, the temporary designated hitter mashed a monster shot off Chad Orvella to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. His swing looked fantastic. He followed that with an RBI ground-rule double in the fifth, finishing 2-2 with a pair of RBI.

Mark Teixeira hit a single in two trips in his debut, and Xavier Nady had a ground-rule double of his own prior to Posada's second hit. The other starters didn't fare as well. Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and Jose Molina were all 0-2, and Derek Jeter was 0-3. Rodriguez struck out and grounded into a double play.

Shelley Duncan provided the rest of the Yankee offense with a 3-run home run in the seventh.

On the mound, Phil Hughes pitched two innings of shutout, no-hit ball with two strikeouts. He was wild, however, walking one and hitting two batters. Phil Coke got the win, pitching two scoreless innings while allowing one hit and fanning one batter. Brian Bruney, Mark Melancon, and Jonathan Albaladejo all pitched perfect innings, and Bruney and Melancon each struck out a batter. Damaso Marte allowed one hit in his inning, but didn't surrender any runs, and J. Brent Cox gave up a run on three hits in his inning of work.

The World Baseball Classic is fast approaching...and I hope this year's MLB games have a Classic mode...

Back From Catatonic State

Hey Yankees fans,
I have been on a bit of a vacation from posting here ever since Alex Rodriguez and PEDs hit the news cycle. I apologize for that, but I simply didn't know what side to come down on. On one hand, I felt like I should keep supporting him, because he is my second favorite player and the greatest player I have ever seen. On the other hand, with the steroid situation, I feel like he deceived us all and will likely earn the career home run title via dishonesty. I still don't have an answer, but I considered not watching the Yanks this year. I considered shutting down this blog. I can't do either. Spring Training has officially begun, and Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run in his first official at-bat, and that allows me the opportunity to do what I love, analyze baseball, and not the moral fiber of the people who play it. Welcome to 2009.

The final thing I will say about steroids is that if Derek Jeter ever tests positive, or is credibly linked to them, I don't think I will ever root for the Yankees again.

PS- I just bought MLB.TV Premium package and it is looking considerably better than last stinks being out of New York, but at least I can watch the games!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Orioles add Hill, Wigginton

The Baltimore Orioles have managed to add Former Cubs' left-hander Rich Hill to their starting rotation mix, for a player to be named. Hill is an extremely talented youngster who struggled with his control in the majors, minors and winter ball recently after going 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 2007. This is the second time in recent weeks that Baltimore has benefitted from the Cubs being overstocked following the trade for Felix Pie.

Hill is being reunited with his AA and AAA coaches Alan Dunn and Rick Kranitz, who worked him through similar problems during his time there. It probably won't hurt to have them, but Camden Yards strikes me as a place where a guy can become scared to throw strikes because, as the French say, it is le launching pad. He is already used to that, however, because he pitched well in Wrigley Field.

Nonetheless, Hill is a guy who could benefit from a regular spot in a starting rotation. The Orioles seem intent on giving him every opportunity to do that.  He is also 29 years old, so his best seasons should theoretically be hitting right now. The O's frankly need more upside in their rotation, and Hill could provide that if he can find the strike zone. They had to wave goodbye to Brandon Burres to make room for Hill on the roster, but that probably wasn't too painful.

Baltimore also signed Ty Wigginton to a two year contract, adding some versatile pop to back up Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora in the infield. It appears that Kevin Millar is done with the team in the wake of this signing.

Wigginton is an upgrade, and he hit 23 home runs in 386 at-bats last season. The Orioles have a nice enough hitting team, but their pitching is still a serious question mark. Now would be the time to check in with the White Sox and see if the rumored Roberts for Gavin Floyd is still of interest. Wigginton could step in capably, albeit worse than Roberts, at second base. A front three of Jeremy Guthrie, Floyd and Hill could make them a serious club. But that is extraordinarily unlikely.