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Posts Tagged ‘Austin Jackson’

I was going to write about the sudden spate of injuries that hit the Yankees this past week. But I figured enough has been written and said regarding Andy Pettitte‘s groin, Alex Rodriguez‘s calf, Nick Swisher‘s forearm, Alfredo Aceves‘ back and Lance Berkman‘s ankle that you probably know more about their injury status than I do. Besides, after a post about Javier Vazquez‘ dead arm, I’ve had my fill of negativity. ESPN loves to talk about how the Red Sox have overcome their injuries to remain in the hunt, but they generally neglect that some pretty important players in the “Evil Empire” have dealt with – and are still dealing with – some significant injuries. So, if Boston is playing with such extreme grit and fortitude, than the Yankees must
be doing something even better – after all, the Beaneaters are still 5 ½ games back. So I decided to write about one of those things. (Ok, enough of the digression – but it gave me a chance to get a dig in on the Red Sox, and I can’t pass those up!)

One of those good things for the Yankees lately is the play of Curtis Granderson. Traded to the Yankees for Austin Jackson and Phil Coke during last offseason, Granderson has been largely a disappointment this year. Many fans (me included) have wondered what happened to the guy who hit 30 home runs last year; who blended speed and power into an all-star caliber player. Just 5 short weeks ago I wondered aloud if just maybe, Dave Dombrowski had snookered Brian Cashman. Even Joe Girardi had seemed to lose faith in his stating center fielder – after acquiring Austin Kearns in a deadline deal, the skipper looked to be employing a platoon between Granderson and Kearns.

But something magical happened between then and now. I’m not sure what it was, but the Yankees should patent it and sell it to every player in a season long slump. Most folks point to Kevin Long instilling a new swing and enhanced plate discipline during a 3 game respite on the last road trip. I’m not quite sure that’s all there is to Granderson’s revival. After all, you have to presume Long was working with Granderson over the previous 100 odd games, so I suspect there was a riot act read to him either before or during that hiatus. Whatever the case, Granderson has emerged from that brief interlude with a revamped approach – he’s quieter at the plate now, holding his hands closer to his body and slightly lower, and his crouch isn’t as exaggerated as before. Don’t listen to all of those folks saying Long adjusted Granderson’s swing – the one thing anyone who’s played the game knows, is a player’s swing is as natural as breathing. Even if you need to make changes, it’s not something that can be done in a few days. But the approach can. In Granderson’s case, those adjustments have made a world of difference. His bat was always quick; he just found himself swinging at air too often because his approach at the plate inhibited his view of the ball. It caused his head to bob; his hands had to drop and come in to get into hitting position. As a result, pitchers knew they could bust him inside, leaving Curtis vulnerable to off-speed pitches away.

Although hardly a sample size to get excited about, the results from a few tweaks in Granderson’s in Granderson’s hitting style have been eye-popping:

Date

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

BAbip

k%

Before 8/12

0.239

0.306

0.415

0.722

0.317

22.0%

Since 8/12

0.364

0.440

0.727

1.167

0.421

12.0%

The last two columns are the ones that may indicate this isn’t a temporary change in Granderson’s fortunes. Granderson is swinging and missing less often (though still more than I’d like for a speed guy) and when he hits the ball, he is scorching it more often. I doubt he can maintain that average on balls in play for an extended period (or the OPS – both are in Barry Bonds territory), but if he can hold that metric at a .350 or so clip and keep the strikeouts down it translates to a .308 batting average and .414 on base average for the rest of the season, very respectable numbers that the Yankee will gladly take from their 7 hole hitter.

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Here are a few tidbits on Yogi, Hideki and A-Jack. 

A few weeks ago, Yogi Berra did a media teleconference for the Bob Hope Classic. He spoke about how often he’s still recognized in public:

“A lot of people look at me, they say, `Boy, you look just like Yogi Berra.’ I say, `Yeah, a lot of people tell me that,’” Berra said.

Berra was asked Tuesday if all the strange quotes attributed to him really came out of his mouth.

“They’re mostly mine, they really are true, all of them,” he said.

Yogi Berra talks to the media during a pre-tournament press conference for the 51st Bob Hope Classic golf tournament in La Quinta, California last week. Berra is the ambassador of the tournament.

Hideki Matsui took a visit to a factory of Japanese construction and mining equipment manufacturer Komatsu in Hiratsuka, Japan last week. During his promotional visit, he stated that he likes the idea of games between the World Series and Japan Series champions even though he may be retired by the time something like that takes place. He even did a demonstration with a hybrid backhoe PC200-8 during his visit.

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How can anyone question whether the Yankees or better or not? Some are debating the topic, and I’m looking to settle the argument.

Gone: Hideki Matsui, Chien-Ming Wang, Jerry Hairston Jr., Brian Bruney, Austin Jackson, Melky Cabrera, Phil Coke, Shelley Duncan, Eric Hinske, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino

Newcomers: Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, Boone Logan, Jamie Hoffman, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree

Still up in the air: Johnny Damon

Let’s do a quick overview:

The Goners

  • If Matsui didn’t have the postseason he had, nobody would be crying if he left us. You have to judge him based on his regular season. He was nothing spectacular during the regular season, and he locks up the DH spot since he can’t play the field at all with his knee problems. This is coming from a fan of his. He is one of those players you respect in the game, but you need to know when to cut your ties.
  • Chien-Ming Wang fell off the charts dramatically. The guy has thrown only 137 innings over the past two years. He went (W-L) 1-6 with a 9.64ERA last season. What makes you think he can pitch right now? He was a 19-game winner. Not anymore.
  • Hairston, Bruney, Cabrera, Coke, Duncan and Dunn will not be missed. As for Hinske..we could use him, but he’s not a major loss.

The Newcomers

  • Curtis Granderson is taking over centerfield. He brings another power bat to the lineup, more speed, and serves as a defensive upgrade in the outfield.
  • Javier Vazquez will take the 4th slot in the rotation. He didn’t fair so well with the Yanks his first time around, but can you give him another chance? This guy could be an ace on many major league ball clubs. Power pitchers are key in the playoffs…just remember that.
  • Nick Johnson walked 17.8% of the time in ’09, which was the highest percentage in the major leagues. His .426 on base percentage was second-best in the league to Albert Pujols. Enough said? Don’t give me that..”Oh..he’s going to get injured.” You never know how the season will go. You can’t predict injuries. How did A.J. Burnett do last season?
  • The club also brought in a young bunch of players: Boone Logan, Jamie Hoffman, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree. Hoffman will compete for an outfield spot come Spring Training.

and those still up in the air

  • Johnny Damon is still undecided where he is going to play next season. His options are running out, and there is still a chance he can return to the Yankees. Let’s wait and see what happens.

This off-season, the Yankees basically got rid of players that were over the hill, had injury problems, weren’t anything special at the major league level, and some prospects that haven’t proven a damn thing. Instead, they brought in an all-star center fielder, a pitcher that could be an ace on many ball clubs and a DH that finished behind Pujols in OBP last year. This team should be stronger than last year’s. I am well aware that things don’t always work out, but this team is clearly better on paper. Now, let’s see if they can do it on the field.

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Update: 2:45PM ET: The Yankees have completed a three-team trade that gives them center fielder Curtis Granderson, pending a review of medical records, according to a source.

From the Yankees Official Website: 

INDIANAPOLIS — The D-Backs, Tigers and Yankees reportedly agreed in principle Tuesday on a deal that would send Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson to New York in the first major deal of this year’s Winter Meetings. In the seven-player trade, SI.com’s John Heyman reported that the D-Backs would receive right-handers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy from the Tigers and Yankees, respectively, while the Tigers would get pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from Arizona and outfielder Austin Jackson and left-hander Phil Coke from New York. A source said that the Yankees were piqued by the idea of installing the left-handed-hitting Granderson into center field at Yankee Stadium, where his power bat could play nicely with the short porch and help reconstruct their lineup for a defense of their World Series title. The D-backs entered the Winter Meetings searching for a starter to slot behind Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Scherzer in the rotation and about $10 million to spend. Their plan seemed to call for them to spend the bulk of that money either on a free-agent pitcher or taking part of a large pitcher’s contract off another team’s hands via trade. If the deal is indeed structured as believed, it would allow the D-backs to spend their remaining dollars on shoring up the bullpen and bolstering their offense, which has underperformed the past few seasons. Kennedy missed much of last season after having surgery to repair an aneurysm under his right armpit on May 12. He pitched in four Minor League games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year and tossed a scoreless inning in his one appearance for the Yankees. The right-hander pitched well in the Arizona Fall League and the D-backs appear to have favorable reports on him.   (more…)

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Wrapping up the first day of ther Winter Meetings:

-Pete Caldera reports that Andy Pettitte can expect an offer of over $10 million when the Yanks make their formal pitch to the 37-year-old lefty, according to a source familiar with the club’s thinking.

-John Heyman reports that Johnny Damon is another Yankees priority and they are expected to offer about $20 million over two years to keep him. Yankees’ backup plans are: for pitcher, Pineiro and Wolf; and for outfielder, Mike Cameron, Jermaine Dye, Curtis Granderson and possibly Byrd.

-According to Marc Carig, the team “told entire coaching staff that they’d be offered jobs again.”

-Joel Sherman reports, both the Yankees and Mets have interest in Kelvim Escobar. He might pitch in Venezuela in December to show his health.

-According to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the Mariners, Giants, Mets, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and Yankees are interested in Nick Johnson.

-Tyler Kepner reports that the Yanks interested in Chapman, but at less than $15 mill

Chad Jennings has a ton of updates for us:

-Just talked to a source who seems to agree with most of the conventional thinking that’s floating around. He sees the Yankees going after Johnny Damon but letting Hideki Matsui slide, he sees Andy Pettitte as an early key to the Yankees offseason, and he’d rather keep Phil Hughes and give up Joba Chamberlain in a trade for Roy Halladay. He also has some Red Sox notes for us: (more…)

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Update: 12:30AM ET: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the Tigers were never satisfied with the blockbuster talks. 

Via MLB Trade Rumors:

The D’Backs pushed for a blockbuster three-way deal with the Yankees and Tigers today, only to see one of those two teams veto it, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, the teams are discussing the following scenario.

The deal would send Curtis Granderson to the Yanks, along with a prospect or two from the D’Backs. Arizona would obtain Edwin Jackson from the Tigers and Ian Kennedy from the Yankees. The Tigers would obtain Max Scherzer from the D’Backs and Austin Jackson, Phil Coke and Michael Dunn from the Yanks.

Talks are apparently at an “impasse” now, though the D’Backs continue to push for a trade

Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson? Does that mean our hopes for Roy Halladay are over? I didn’t realize it would take this much to land him.

Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that the Yankees spent “much of the day” trying to acquire Granderson, and that they still haven’t offered Johnny Damon a contract. I didn’t realize the Yankees were spending the whole day in talks with Detroit, so I guess this is some serious business here.

Earlier today, Buster Olney said the Tigers wanted Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson from the Yankees for Granderson. I didn’t even want to part with him for Halladay, so it wouldn’t make much sense to do that.

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In a shocking piece of news as the Yankees Organizational meetings come to an end, the Yankees will bid on Roy Halladay. Jon Heyman surmises that it will take some combination of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Jesus Montero, and Austin Jackson, which is another bit of shocking news, right?

Personally, I would start off with an offering of Phil Hughes (Sorry Zell!), Austin Jackson and maybe someone like Ian Kennedy. Personally, I believe Joba has a higher upside and I’d rather not potentially give up a bat like Montero’s. Ian Kennedy? That was more of a throw in, I still believe he has something to contribute to a major league team.

In reality, I know that won’t be the package that would win Roy Halladay’s services. I can see either Joba or Montero leaving, but both of them? Unlikely. The winter meetings in Indy begin on Monday and Halladay is likely to dominate meetings there, so let the fun begin!

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The Yankees recent World Series victory got me thinking about the birth of a new dynasty. Some say it’s impossible to build a dynasty these days with all the different teams out there and the competitive free agent market. We saw the Bronx Bombers build a dynasty in the late 90’s, which stood strong until the blooper up the middle off of Gonzo’s bat.

My question is..can it be done again? It’s very rare that we see back-to-back champs, or even three straight championship victories. You can be the best team out there, and still not win it all. Entering the postseason, it’s all about the hottest team and situational hitting. The Yankees were unstoppable in the playoffs this past postseason, mainly because of their starting rotation and they got the big hits when it mattered most.

I think it can definitely be done, especially with the Yankees because they have such great financial resources. Bring in a big-time free agent, let go some of the older veterans, and bring in a new group of youngsters. That’s how it’s done. It’s about having a mix of experienced players and the next generation. Decisions need to be made on Damon, Matsui, Pettitte, Wang, Hughes and Joba. It’s hard to say if Cashman will pull the right strings this time around, (he certainly had a terrific 2008 off-season) but I feel that if he follows that plan than it could work.

Some of my suggestions: Sign either one: Damon/Matsui, Bring in John Lackey or Roy Halladay (all depending on what they are asking for), call up Austin Jackson. If they let Matsui and Damon go than they must go after a big time outfielder…possibly Matt Holliday. (more…)

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The New York Daily News is reporting that the Red Sox are about to get hot and heavy with the Blue Jays in their pursuit of Doc Halladay. An unnamed source indicated that the Red Sox would prefer to wrap up the deal before the Winter Meetings start on December 7th.

Now, if this unnamed source is telling the truth, will this ultimately force the hand of the Yankees? Undoubtedly. I can see the Yankees letting a John Lackey go to the Red Sox in free agency, but in no way would I ever want to see Doc Halladay just fall into their laps. Do I think he will come that easy to the Red Sox? Probably not, but considering the dearth of suitors available for the Blue Jays, it will likely come down to the Yanks and Sox again.

Mark Feinsand believes it would take a package of Phil or Joba and Jesus Montero and/or Austin Jackson to pry the good Doc away from Toronto. I can live without Austin Jackson, but it would almost certainly force the Yankees hand on the free agent market this year. Even then, Scott Boras would smell blood in the water and could possibly force a 3rd option year on to a possible Damon contract.

In other words, the fun is about to begin.

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Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo over at boston.com mused that the Yankees are would likely get into the Halladay hunt if they started off any package with Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes. With Joba or Phil, I highly doubt that the Yankees would throw in Austin Jackson, as they view him as their center fielder of the future.

If the Blue Jays are willing to wait a year or two, Austin Romine, who the Yankees have potential high hopes for, wouldn’t be a bad package in my honest opinion. So far in the minors Romine and Jesus Montero are hitting the cover off the ball, but I think it’s more likely they keep Montero.

In the case of acquiring Halladay for Joba or Phil plus whomever we package either one of them with, the Yankees would have to resign Andy and Chien Ming Wang or even go after Lackey (which at this moment I don’t think will happen). While I would love to see Doc Halladay in pinstripes, it’ll be tough to see Phil or Joba leave. Regardless of starting or relieving they both seem to have a decent career ahead of themselves, as long as they aren’t constrained by the ‘rules’. In reality it all depends on how much the Yankees want Halladay.  Regardless, whomever acquires Doc Halladay before free agency will likely have to give up the farm and likely break the bank.

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GrandersonWith the pros and cons of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui already laid out, I think it is time that we lay out the pros and cons trading for Curtis Granderson, the CF for the Detroit Tigers. Recently, the New York Post has indicated that the Yankees would likely target Granderson and I believe if the situation is right, they will.

Pros

With all due to respect to Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner, if the Yankees picked up a CF’er of the caliber of Curtis Granderson, it would be the first time since Bernie Williams where everyone knew who the would be playing in center field come opening day. In 2009, Granderson hit .245 with an OPS of .780. He also hit 30 HR’s, drove in 72 runs, walked 71 times and stole 20 bases. Now, I know what you’re saying, ‘His average is .245, what is so great about him?’ That is a completely fair question to ask. If you look further into the numbers, Granderson hit .275 against right handers. He also hit 10 of his HR’s in spacious Comerica Park. Also, he has a .272 career batting average (.301 vs Righties), so 2009 might be more of an aberration than anything else. For 2010 and 2011, his salary would also be under the $10 million, which is likely under Johnny Damon’s asking price to boot. To top all of this off, he would be an improvement over a re-signed Johnny Damon and he turns 29 in March 2010.

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matsuimvp The champagne is barely cleaned from the carpets in the Yankees clubhouse and the confetti is not even cleaned from the Canyon of Heroes, yet some important decisions need to be made about the Yankees’ three free agents. I am of course referring to Matsui, Damon and Pettitte. I am not worried about Pettitte, he will receive a well received pay bump and be back next year after thinking over the decision in Texas for a little while. What most analyst’s seem to be torn over is whether or not to decide between Matsui or Damon. I will lay out the pros and cons to each side and then give my personal opinion afterwords. Ready? Lets go!

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