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Monday, May 31, 2004
 
100th POST The Yankees may be in need of a left-hander out of the pen. Alex Graman is a lefty, and though he hasn't been coming out of the AAA Columbus bullpen, he has been pitching very effectively. Yesterday was no different as Graman lasted 7 innings and allowed 6 hits, 1 run, 0 earned runs, walked only 1, and struck out 5. In 46.2 innings of AAA work Graman has a 2.12 ERA with 34 hits, 4 home runs, 16 walks, and 46 strikeouts. Scott Proctor was the reliever to follow Graman and he had a clean line in his 1 inning of work. So it still bears pondering why Tanyon Sturtze remains on the major league roster when younger, better options exist. Columbus won the game 9 to 2, and with that much offense you would have to figure that Andy Phillips was involved, and of course he was. Playing DH, he went 3 for 4 with 3 singles. Caonabo Cosme, back at 2B, could not get back to hitting and was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Late in the game, Jackson Melian pinch-hit for Phillips and continued the offensive onslaught. The 24-year-old tripled in his only at bat as he continues to impress in his very limited AAA action thus far. He may find himself in a starting role if he keeps this up. Though Columbus lacks much in the way of actual prospects, following them has made it very clear that they have a lot of replacement level talent. Guys who, if anything goes wrong with a Yankee major leaguer (knock on wood), can step in and hold their own. I would look at this as being a major purpose of a AAA team, so Columbus is doing a great job in that respect. Some of these replacement level standouts, other than the guys who normally receive attention here, include 25-year-old SS Felix Escalona, .314/.383/.410/.275 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA), 27-year-old IF Bryan Myrow, .276/.374/.455/.282, and 25-year-old 3B Jeff Deardorff, .277/.358/.497/.285. Trenton won 8 to 0 yesterday as Dioner Navarro and Robinson Cano both had good days at the plate. Cano was 2 for 5 with 2 singles and 2 strikeouts, while Dioner Navarro was 2 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. You would love to see Navarro start to demonstrate the power that he did in the first half of 2003 and all of 2003, but at the least he is hitting for average and getting on base. The Tampa losing streak reached 4 games yesterday as they lost 7 to 1. Ferdin Tejada, who I'm about ready to stop paying attention to, gave his usual anemic offensive performance, in this case it was an 0 for 3 with a strikeout one, while Melky and Bronson were not at their best. Melky, who was 1 for 4 with a single and 2 strikeouts, was a little better than Bronson, who was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. When those two aren't hitting, it means that combined with Tejada there are at least 3 auto-outs in the lineup so it's almost a forfeit. Battle Creek took their game by a score of 4 to 3. The game lasted a mere 6 innings due to weather issues, so the hitters did not have as many chances to do damage as they usually do, but they did well in the time they had, for the most part. Hector Made was 2 for 3 with a double and a walk as he looks to get hot again, Eric "I'm going to push my OPS to 1.000, maybe then the Yankees will promote me" Duncan was 2 for 3 with a double and a strikeout. The doubles were Made's 8th and Duncan's 14th. Erold "world's worst leadoff hitter" Andrus was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Estee "this season has sucked" Harris was 0 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout. At this point it is an accomplishment for him when not all of the outs were Ks. On the pitcher's mound to start yesterday's game was Steven White. White had a poor outing as he would go 5.1 innings and give up 7 hits, a home run, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, walk 3, and strike out 4. The right-hander from Baylor has struggled with his consistency and not been as impressive as I thought he would. *** Reminder: Updated top 10 prospects coming this week, in addition to a draft preview *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Sunday, May 30, 2004
 
GRADUATION When I say graduation, I'm not referring to a prospect being promoted, but rather to my recent graduation, which is why there has been a delay in updates. Anyway, enough about me. Columbus has played 3 games since I last mentioned them, a doubleheader on Friday and then one game yesterday. They lost both games of the doubleheader, the first 7 to 2, and the second 6 to 4. They then won yesterday's game 2 to 0. Bret Prinz and Colter Bean both had work over the course of the 3 games, and both did their jobs. Prinz went 1 inning and struck out 2, with no other marks in his line. Bean went 2 innings with a clean line other than 1 strikeout. The most significant starting pitching performance of the past 3 games was that of Brad Halsey. Halsey started yesterday and went 7 strong innings allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 3. He is now 11th in the International League in ERA with a 3.19. Playing 1B and DH, Phillips has gone 5 for 12 with 2 doubles and 2 strikeouts over the 3 games. He remains hot, but with the success of the 1B/DH replacements at the major league level and the recent Enrique Wilson hot streak Phillips will not be getting a shot anytime soon. Jackson Melian also remains hot; he was 2 for 5 with a double and a walk over the 3-game stretch. Despite only being used sparingly, Melian has been very impressive thus far at AAA. He is 8 for 15 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, a walk, and 3 strikeouts, which gives him a line of .533/.588/.933/.498 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA). Caonabo Cosme is about done, as he was 0 for 7 with 5 Ks, while playing SS and 2B, and his numbers have fallen all the way to .264/.339/.362/.240. It seems that Cosme was simply having a hot streak to begin the season and has returned to his low batting average, low power, and decent patience ways. On Friday, Trenton lost a marathon game to Binghamton, 5 to 4, and then they lost a regular game to Binghamton, 3 to 1. The Friday game featured a decent pitching performance by "Tiger" Wang. Wang went 8 innings and allowed 7 hits, a home run, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, walked 1, and struck out 5. In the 2 games, Dioner Navarro cooled off some. He was merely 1 for 9, a single of course, with a walk and 2 strikeouts. Meanwhile, though Robinson Cano had a bad second game, 0 for 4 with a strikeout, in his first game showed signs of a breakout. The 2B was 2 for 5 with a double and a triple. Since the team as a whole only managed 4 hits in the second game, I am betting that the first game is more indicative of Robinson's present level of offensive play than the second. Tampa lost their last 2 games, 7 to 5 and then 6 to 5. In the first Jeff Karstens had a disappointing performance. The 21-year-old right-hander only lasted 4.2 innings, which, unfortunately, was enough time for him to give up 6 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, and 2 walks, though he did manage 7 strikeouts. Despite this hiccup, 41.2 innings into the season, Karstens has the impressive line of: 41 hits, 23 runs, 17 earned runs, 2 home runs, 9 walks, and 40 strikeouts. Melky Cabrera has been decent over the last 2 games, 4 for 11 with a triple and a strikeout and has thus far not been great or horrible at A+. Bronson Sardinha, meanwhile, had a nice couple of games. He was 5 for 11, though it is still disapointing to see the lack of extra base hits, as all hits are singles. The most interesting part of the second game, as far as Sardinha is concerned, is that Bronson switched over to 2B late in the game. This could mean nothing...or it could be important. Sardinha has really struggled at 3B this season, with 17 errors in 45 games so this could mean that he is being moved to his newest position within the organization in order to have a consistent position to play. He has already been moved from SS, LF and CF. This could also mean that Cano is about to be promoted to AAA and Sardinha will become the new AA 2B, but I don't think that is very likely. The most interesting scenario, in my opinion, would be that Sardinha is moving permanently to 2B, with Duncan taking over his 3B spot on the Tampa roster. In their Friday game, the Battle Creek team saw Abel Gomez have his first truly poor start in a while as they lost 8 to 7. Gomez went 4.2 innings and gave up 7 hits, 1 home run, 6 runs, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, and struck out 8. Gomez was more hittable than usual, but at the same time, his defense failed him in this game. Then in the Saturday game, Elvys Quezada had trouble following up his no-hitter, but BC won 14 to 5. The Seton Hall right-hander would only last 4 innings, in which he gave up 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 6. Quezada has been very inconsistent this season. In the absence of Melky Cabrera, Erold Andrus has found himself moved into the leadoff spot. This makes little to no sense to me since Andrus, unlike Cabrera, does not have much of a history of taking walks. During the 2 games, Andrus was 2 for 10; both hits were singles. Hector Made, with a solid grip on the 2-slot in the order, was 2 for 10 with a single and a double. Eric "why haven't I been promoted" Duncan, continues to impress. For the 2-game stretch, the 3B was 2 for 6 with 2 singles and 4 walks. Estee Harris played in the first game, went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts, and then sat out the second game. *** Update on today's action either later today or early tomorrow. Updated top 10 coming soon also, the draft preview will wait a little longer. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Friday, May 28, 2004
 
THAT TOOK A WHILE After what seems like forever, Robinson Cano finally broke through with a good night as Trenton edged their opponents 8 to 6. Cano was 2 for 5 with a double, his 14th of the season, and must feel relieved that that awful stretch is over. The key for Cano will now be to put a couple good games together and get that OPS back over .900, the quicker he does that, the quicker he sees AAA. While Cano was finally breaking out of a funk, Navarro continued his recent hot streak. By going 2 for 5 with 2 singles, Navarro extended his hitting streak to 11 games. While Navarro has done a great job of hitting for average lately, I would still like to see him hit a few more doubles and get his walk rate back to the ridiculous level it was at earlier this year. For now, I will have to be comfortable with the batting average beginning to reach .300, as it is now at .295. While the offensive prospect duo at Trenton had a good night, pitching-wise, the results continue to be poor. Last night it was Sean Henn's turn to pitch poorly, though he managed to collect the win on the strength of the offense. Henn went 5 innings and allowed 5 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 3 and his seasonal ERA has risen all the way to 4.24. Henn could really use a dominant start sometime soon. Tonight, "Tiger" Wang takes the mound and attempts to be a Trenton pitching prospect who doesn't perform below expectations. Tampa had their 3-game winning streak snapped as the offense could only muster 2 runs and 5 hits, in comparison to their opponents 3 runs and 10 hits. Bronson Sardinha, in particular, had a very bad game. The 3B was 0 for 3 with a HBP at the plate and then made an error, his 17th. Melky Cabrera wasn't much better at the plate, as he was 0 for 4, but he did draw his first A+ walk. This game also saw Cabrera return to his usual leadoff slot, while Sardinha was in his normal 2-hole. Ferdin Tejada also still can't hit, as he was 0 for 2 with a walk and is quickly plummeting off the prospect radar. The starting pitcher for yesterday's loss was Jose Valdez, who is still struggling to miss bats and has stagnated. In 5 innings he allowed 6 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, walked 1, and struck out 2. That just won't do and someone who can get into the mid-90s on a regular basis should not be missing so few bats. Tonight's starter, Jeff Karstens, should not have the same problem as he attempts to continue to impress. Tyler Clippard had another fine performance yesterday, helping lead the Battle Creek squad to a 7 to 3 victory. The right-hander went 6 innings, allowed 4 hits, 2 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, and struck out 3, as he lowered his ERA to 3.06. Outside of his one disaster, the start against Kane County, Clippard has compiled the following numbers: 51 innings, 40 hits, 17 runs, 9 earned runs, 5 walks, 49 strikeouts, 1 home run. Simply put, Clippard is a stud already. It will be interesting to see what happens to his numbers once he picks up some more fastball velocity. The other stud Battle Creek pitcher, Abel Gomez, will take the mound tonight. I would look for a huge game from him tonight. Hector Made and Erold Andrus would love to forget about their plate appearances from yesterday. Andrus, batting in the 2-spot, was 0 for 5 with a K and Made, hitting 6th, was 0 for 4. It appears that the hot streak for both is over, or perhaps this is just a blip on the path. Estee Harris continued his recent trend of having solid games by going 1 for 4 with a double and limited himself to 1 strikeout. Finally, Eric Duncan had his typical strong offensive game. Duncan was 1 for 4 with a home run, and a HBP. For those of you wondering, Duncan is now hitting .304/.400/.553/.318 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA), and it would really be nitpicking to find a gaping hole in his offensive game. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Thursday, May 27, 2004
 
MOVING ON Columbus lost 10 to 6 yesterday, and there wasn't much in the way of "prospect" action. Andy Phillips had his first bad game in recent memory as he only managed to go 1 for 5 with a single while playing 1B. Caonabo Cosme did his best to make sure that those who thought he was coming out of his slump were proven wrong by going 0 for 4 with a strikeout. The only real positive on the night was Jackson Melian. Melian came into the game as a pinch-hitter and did his job, collecting a double in his lone at-bat. So in 10 AAA at bats Melian now has 6 hits, 3 of which are doubles and 1 triple. He is swinging the bat very well right now. Trenton beat up on the opposition by a score of 8 to 0 yesterday. Of the 13 hits collected by the Thunder, 3 belonged to Dioner Navarro who was 3 for 4, though all of his hits were singles. Navarro is now 9 for his last 19 with a double, 2 homers, and a walk. Then there is Robinson Cano. On the one hand, it's great that he got a walk last night, while not striking out, something that has been a problem of late. On the other hand, he was also 0 for 4. Cano is now 1 for his last 19, which is pretty bad, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say he has a good game tonight as he begins to push his OPS back into the elite level. Tampa won 7 to 5 last night, on the strength of their starting pitching and offense. The pitching star was Matthew DeSalvo, who went 7 innings and allowed 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 8. After this stellar performance, Jeremy King entered the game and pitched 1 inning and allowed 3 hits, 1 home run, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 1. DeSalvo now ranks 1st in WHIP, 2nd in strikeouts, and 1st in ERA. I'm going to try and say this as calmly as I can, PROMOTE HIM! There is absolutely no reason why DeSalvo is still at Tampa. He is clearly DOMINATING his competition, as there hasn't been a team to give him a challenge in weeks. In addition it's not as if he is some young phenom who needs to be coddled. DeSalvo is a 23-year-old accomplished college pitcher; he should be treated as one and be pushed through the system aggressively. Lastly, it is not as if the Trenton rotation is filled with stud prospects or stud performers. As a matter of fact, as of this writing, Sean Henn, who pitches tonight, is the only prospect still in the Trenton rotation and as a whole...the Trenton pitchers have sucked. So, there is clearly no reason to hold DeSalvo back, just promote him and get it over with. Find out if you have something useful, a Joe Blanton or John Maine, rather than letting him play with his competition. Of course, the big offensive news from the Tampa game was the A+ debut of Melky Cabrera. I thought Melky would be taking over in the leadoff spot, but instead he hit second, pushing Bronson Sardinha, the former second place hitter, to the third spot. Things seemed to work out fine, as Cabrera was 1 for 3 with a single and a sacrifice fly, Sardinha was 2 for 4 with 2 singles. It will be somewhat interesting to see what is done with Rudy Guillen when he returns as he had been hitting 3rd and playing CF, and both of those spots are now taken. Battle Creek lost its first game in the post-Melky era by the score of 6 to 4. The biggest reason for their loss was the starting pitching, on this night it came in the form of Chase Wright. Wright continues to strive for further depths of pitching suckiness. He only lasted 3 innings and gave up 4 hits, 6 runs, 6 earned runs, 5 walks, and struck out 2. In 48.1 innings pitched this season Wright has allowed 65 hits, 39 runs, 34 earned runs, 3 home runs, 27 walks, 10 wild pitches, and 29 strikeouts. As demonstrated by the wild pitch and walk numbers, Wright has ENORMOUS control issues. At this point there is no reason not to move the 21-year-old left-hander back to extended spring training and work with him in order to get him ready for the Staten Island season. I feel as strongly about Wright's need to be demoted as I do about DeSalvo's need to be promoted. Seriously, FREE JASON STEPHENS! Erold Andrus had the best night of the prospects left in Melky's absence. Andrus was 2 for 5 with a double and a single. Eric Duncan also had a decent night, going 2 for 5 with 2 singles and a stolen base. The stolen base was Duncan's 5th of the season and under the new Battle Creek manager, Duncan has really begun to be more aggressive on the bases. The one negative thing about Duncan's night was that he struck out twice. That brings his season total to 41 strikeouts in 157 at-bats, or a strikeout in 26.1% of his at bats. While Duncan's strikeout total is not very alarming in and of itself, it does concern me that his walk to strikeout ratio has deteriorated as the season has progressed and is now at 23:41, how this will affect him later this season and at Tampa is beyond me, but it is something to keep an eye on as a hole in an otherwise near-flawless offensive game. Speaking of strikeouts, Estee Harris was 0 for 2 last night with a strikeout and 2 walks. This game neither does anything too positively or negatively for Harris. With the departure of Cabrera, Harris may also hang around a little longer as he can play all 3 OF positions and provide BC with some depth. *** The Cabrera promotion has had one negative effect for me. Melky was a member of my 4-man team in the BC fantasy game and I now am handicapped with less than a week to go for this month's game. Currently sitting in 6th place, I am going to need my other 3 players to step it up over the next few days and help me win some free merchandise. Yeah, I know it's a cardinal rule of blogging that you shouldn't talk about your fantasy team, oh well. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
 
DOUBLE DUTY The Columbus Clippers have won their last two contests, including Monday's game by a score of 11 to 1 and Tuesday's game by a score of 9 to 1. Both games featured great offensive and pitching performances from the players of note on the Columbus roster. Brad Halsey was the winner of the first game, running his AAA record to 3-2 and improving his status as trade bait. Halsey went 6 innings, allowed 7 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, walked 2, and struck out 5. His ERA is now down to 3.60 and after a rough start to his AAA career, Halsey has really gotten into a groove. If the Yankees make any major deals, Halsey could play a large role. If the organization has enough faith in him, and the major league team continues to struggle with starting pitching, Halsey has a very small chance of getting a shot. Colter Bean was his usual dominant self in relief of Halsey, in his 1 inning of work, Bean allowed a hit and struck out 2 men to lower his ERA to 1.01. For the Tuesday night game, Alex Graman did his best to outstrip Halsey's performance, he went 7 innings and allowed 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, walked 3, and struck out 5. Scott Proctor came in after Graman and pitched a scoreless eighth, only allowing 1 walk, while striking out 2. Bret Prinz then handled the ninth, with a clean line of work. The offensive stars of the games included Jackson Melian, who was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and a hit by pitch. Melian has gotten off to a hot start to his New York Yankee AAA career, as he is now 5 for his first 9, with 3 extra base hits. Andy Phillips can't stop hitting, while playing 1B in the first game and DH in the second, the 27-year-old went 5 for 9 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, and a walk. In 22 games at AAA thus far, Phillips is now hitting .384/.430/.721/.374, which is of course after he started his first 10 games in AA hitting .357/.383/.738/.357. As soon as Enrique Wilson goes back to hitting like Enrique Wilson, or as soon as the replacement 1B stop hitting, Phillips should get a shot. Even Caonabo Cosme was hot, at least in comparison to what he's done of late; the 2B was 2 for 8 with 2 singles and a walk. Trenton only had one game over the last two days, and it was yesterday's pitcher's duel that saw Trenton victorious by the score of 1 to 0. Robinson Cano continued his slide back to mediocrity with a 0 for 3 night, on top of that horrid offensive performance, Cano also made an error in the field. The pessimist in me wants to give up and say Cano is really just regressing to the mean, but the more optimistic, contemplative side says that he is just in a horrific slump. The reason for my confidence is that Cano had quite clearly made real improvements in his power and patience/discipline, so that the performance he was having earlier was closer to the "real" him than the way he has been performing lately. Hopefully, he can snap out of his slump soon, because even though his .290/.350/.531/.290 would be more than acceptable over the course of a full season for a 21-year-old middle INF in AA, it won't get him the Yankee 2005 2B job that I want him to have. Dioner Navarro was 1 for 4 with a single, and while not an impressive night in and of itself, it was impressive in comparison to what the rest of the lineup managed to do. Like Columbus, Tampa also managed to win both of their games. Both were come-from-behind victories, the first by a score of 4 to 3 and the second 7 to 5. Since I don't really believe in the A-ball relief-pitching prospect, there was not much to report from that side of things. Offensively, Tampa's almost complete lack of prospects leaves much to be desired when reporting on them...for now (more on that later). As it was, Bronson Sardinha went 2 for 7 with a double and a walk over the 3 game stretch. In the first game, Ferdin Tejada even managed a hit, as he was 1 for 3. Battle Creek won their Monday game 7 to 0, and lost their Tuesday game 4 to 6. The Monday game, as many of you probably know by now, was Elvys Quezada's no-hitter. This really means nothing to me, thus far Quezada's Battle Creek stint has been unimpressive as he has struggled with his control and I won't be impressed by any numbers he DOES put up, because he is a short 22-year-old right-handed starting pitcher in A-. Which is my way of saying Quezada is a middle reliever in the making, IF everything works out for him. Steven White struggled with his control in the Tuesday game as he went 6 innings and allowed 4 hits, 1 home run, 1 run, 1 earned run, 3 walks, and only struck out 2. Eric Duncan was 2 for 7 with a double and 2 walks over the 2-game period. Estee "Big Whiff" Harris was 2 for 8, which isn't bad, with 6 strikeouts, which is horrific. Having Harris struggle like this, after such an impressive debut in 2003, is really disheartening. It is a wonder that the Yankee organization has yet to demote him. Hector Made was 3 for 7 with a walk and after a bad slump in late April/early May, has begun to hit much better with an improved walk rate. Melky Cabrera, on the other hand, has been horrendous of late. He was 1 for 8 with a walk and 3 strikeouts over the 2-game period. He is also now just 1 for his last 14. Of course, this is just a slump, and I was joking about the horrendous comment earlier, as the Yankee organization has decided to promote Cabrera to A+. Hopefully, he continues to do well there, as he helps Tampa towards a 1st half title, and if things get rough, he can rest assured that Eric Duncan will be there soon enough. Cabrera leaves the MWL with a line of .333/.383/.462/.288. *** More on the Cabrera replacements and ramifications of the promotion later. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Monday, May 24, 2004
 
UP AND DOWN The Columbus offense had another big game yesterday as they beat Ottawa 9 to 5. Bret Prinz closed out the game with 1 inning of clean work, other than the 2 strikeouts he picked up. Andy Phillips played another game at 2B and was 1 for 4 with a single and a walk. Since Phillips took his position, Caonabo Cosme played SS and continued his slide with a 0 for 3 night; he also threw in a sacrifice fly for good measure. The newest member of the Columbus team, former top prospect Jackson Melian, was 2 for 4 with a triple and a single. It will be interesting to see what Melian does at AAA since he is still only 24-years-old. Resurgent Matt Smith had probably his worst start of the year yesterday. The 24-year-old Trenton left-hander went 1.2 innings and allowed 2 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 3. The reason Smith's outing was so short was that he left with an injury and is expected to go on the DL as the Trenton pitching situation becomes direr. Matt DeSalvo should be positioned by the phone. Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro continued their paths of late. Meaning, Cano was 0 for 5 with 2 strikeouts, while Navarro was 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. Cano is now 1 for his last 12 with a double and a walk. Navarro is 5 for his last 12 with a double, 2 home runs, and a walk. The slump, hopefully that's what it is, has seen Cano drop below .300 for the first time this season and his seasonal mark is now .296/.356/.541, which is still good compared to the league average of .257/.333/.399, but not obviously not as great as he was doing before. There was quite a pitcher's duel in the Tampa game yesterday as Angel Guzman, one of the top RHP prospects in baseball faced off with Jeff Karstens. In the end Guzman prevailed by a score of 2 to 1, but Karstens did very well for himself as he went 7 innings and gave up 3 hits, 2 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 10 batters. The 21-year-old right-hander has been very impressive thus far this season and could be a sleeper pitching prospect, especially if he gets a taste of AA this year and continues to do well. Bronson Sardinha continued to do what he has done all season, hit and have fielding issues. He was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and made his 16th error of the season. Oh yeah, Ferdin Tejada continued to demonstrate his lack of hitting ability by going 0 for 3. Battle Creek was finally able to have their doubleheader and won one game and lost the other. Chase Wright continued his month long suckiness in the first game by only lasting 2 innings and allowing 7 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, and only striking out 1. Wright's ERA now stands at 5.56 and that's after he started the season on fire. I wonder if Chase Wright continues to suck, will Jason Stephens, or another of the good pitchers from last year's GCL team be promoted? That should be interesting, as I would love to see Stephens, a 2003 HS right-hander who scouts like better than Clippard, start getting some action. Abel Gomez started and won the second game, it was his 5th victory of the season, compared to 0 losses. Gomez went 5.1 innings, gave up 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, walked 3, and struck out 7. Two of the runs were charged to Gomez because his bullpen let them in after he left the game. In addition, Gomez was also named the MWL pitcher of the week. He continues to battle his control, but at the same time, continues to get results. Melky Cabrera had a bad day as he saw both his hitting and on base streak end in the first game of the doubleheader, on the day he was 0 for 6 with 2 walks. Despite the conclusion of the streaks, it's still nice to see the 2 walks. Erold Andrus had a good day at the plate, going 3 for 7; all his hits were singles. Eric Duncan was 1 for 6, but his lone hit was a big one, as he hit a 2-run home run. Estee Harris was 2 for 6 on the day, both hits were singles, and is now 10 for his last 32, with a ton of strikeouts. Hey, you take what you can get. Hector Made did not start the first game, and had a forgettable night at the plate in the second game as he went 0 for 3. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Sunday, May 23, 2004
 
PROMOTION TIME The Columbus Clippers won both games of their doubleheader yesterday, as Andy "promote me now" Phillips had a huge day at the plate. Phillips played the first game as the DH and the second as the 2B; he was a combined 4 for 6 with a triple, a home run, and a walk. Through 73 at bats for Columbus, Phillips is now hitting .370/.410/.671/.352 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA). With the recent injury of Jason Giambi, Phillips may get a shot at the 1B job, if Tony Clark performs poorly. If not that, then the Yankees recent move of Phillips back to 2B could mean that they are grooming him as the short term solution for the growing 2B problem since Miguel Cairo is beginning to cool off and Enrique Wilson has always sucked and will continue to do so. If the Yankees ever plan on getting anything out of Phillips, now would be the opportune time as he is in his age 27 season, which is typically the prime season of a player's career, so they could benefit from him hitting above his head. Former Yankee top prospect, Jackson Melian, has seemingly been promoted from AA as he went 0 for 1 in the second game of the doubleheader. Melian has power potential, but has not done much in the way of actual production since 1999. Despite this, he is still only 24 and may have value as a backup OF down the road. Caonabo Cosme started the 1st game at 2B and went hit a single in his only at bat while drawing 2 walks. In the first game Scott Proctor was the winning pitcher as he pitched 1 inning of relief and had a clean line other than 1 strikeout. Trenton won their game 12 to 5 yesterday; "Tiger" Wang struggled, but was still able to pick up the victory. He went 5 innings and gave up 8 hits, 1 home run, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Robinson Cano had a poor hitting night as he was 0 for 4 with a sac fly, but Dioner Navarro continued his hot hitting of late. The 20-year-old C was 3 for 5 with a double and a home run, and seems to have finally broken out as he has hit home runs on consecutive days. Jose Valdez gave a decent effort for the Tampa team yesterday in order to get his 4th victory of the season. He went 7 innings and gave up 6 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 4. Bronson Sardinha began the effort to recover from his first real slump of the season by going 2 for 5 with a double, his 9th, and Ferdin Tejada continue his hitting struggles. Tejada was 0 for 4 and is now 1 for 10 at the A+ level after hitting horrifically at the AA level. Battle Creek had their scheduled double header turn into just one game, as rain issues delayed the first game of the twin bill and caused the second game to be postponed until today. Though the Battle Creek team lost 3 to 0, there were some good prospect performances. Tyler Clippard pitched a complete game, going 6 innings and giving up 9 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, and struck out 8. Despite giving up more than a hit per inning, most of Clippard's problems in that area were due to defensive failings rather than his own. Offensively, Hector Made and Erold Andrus were the only prospects of note on the team to have poor nights. Made was 0 for 3 with a strikeout, and also made 2 errors in the field. Andrus was 0 for 3. Amongst the guys that did well, Estee Harris played RF and went 1 for 3 with a double and the customary strikeout, as his average has now gotten all the way up to .235, which, for those of you keeping score at home, is the highest it has been since April 30th. He is 8 for his last 26 with a double and a home run. That COULD be the sign of a breakout, but the double digit K total in the same span says "no". Melky "I don't like home runs" Cabrera went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles and Eric Duncan had a single in 2 at bats to go along with a walk. The best news out of last night's prospect happenings is that of the potential impending promotions. The general idea seems to be that Duncan and Cabrera have done enough in A- to be promoted, but because the Yankee organization wants to win at the minor league level they may stay there a little longer. Then, around early June, expect Duncan to take over as the Tampa 3B while Cabrera takes over in CF for Tampa. This would mean that Bronson Sardinha would most likely be promoted to AA to take over 3B there, as they have really struggled to get production out of that position anyway, and Tommy Winrow, the current Tampa CF would become the Trenton CF. With Cabrera as the Tampa CF, look for Rudy Guillen, when he returns from the DL, to permanently move to RF, which is where most thought he would end up anyway. It will be exciting to see all of this shake out. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Saturday, May 22, 2004
 
POSTPONED There was no action for either AAA Columbus or A- Battle Creek yesterday. Both games were postponed until today, giving the farm system a 6 game slate, which should make for tons of recapping tomorrow, though today's recap will be shorter. AA Trenton came out swinging, scoring 3 runs in the first inning, but eventually lost 5 to 3, not collecting a single hit after that first. Despite this, the Trenton prospect duo of Navarro and Cano had productive nights. Cano was 1 for 3 with a double, and most importantly, drew another walk. Meanwhile, Navarro was 1 for 4, which isn't great, but did manage his second home run of the season, which is great. Though Sean Henn was dominant through the first 3 innings he eventually fell apart to the tune of a 5.1 inning, 8 hit, 1 home run, 5 run, 5 earned run, 1 walk, and 6-strikeout performance. Henn's WHIP is now well above 1.5 for the year and he has pitched poorly as of late. The left-hander is going to have to turn in a huge performance, which he seemed on the way to doing yesterday, his next time out. Thankfully, considering the recent performance of Henn and the injury situation at Trenton, help may be on the way in the form of Matt DeSalvo. DeSalvo only lasted 5 innings, but performed well giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, and striking out 6. DeSalvo now leads the league in ERA and is second in strikeouts. Promote this man. Prospect-wise, despite Tampa winning the game by a score of 10 to 2, there wasn't much going on, as Bronson Sardinha was only 1 for 5 with a single. *** I will try and post something about the Giambi situation later today or early tomorrow. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Friday, May 21, 2004
 
ON THE GOOD FOOT...SORT OF AAA Columbus triumphed in extra innings by the score of 5 to 4, which gave Colter Bean a chance to really strut his stuff. Bean collected the win by pitching the final 3 innings where all he gave up was 1 walk, while striking out 3 batters. He is unstoppable, but the major league bullpen is one of the strongest aspects of the team so there is no spot for Bean now. Alex Graman was the starting pitcher for this marathon and went 6 innings, while giving up 4 hits, 2 runs, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, and striking out 5. It seems that Graman may have figured AAA out at the tender age of 26. From the hitting side of things, Caonabo "there goes my chance" Cosme has been demoted to the 7th slot in the lineup and went 1 for 5 with a single and a walk. Bubba Crosby was 2 for 6 with 2 singles and a walk from the leadoff slot. Andy Phillips played 3B and went 2 for 6 with a single and a home run. The homer was Phillips' 5th in 67 AAA at bats and the 27-year-old's 9th of the year in 109 at bats. Trenton has now won 3 in a row, including yesterday's game by the score of 7 to 1. Despite the offense putting up 7 runs and 13 hits the prospects were left out. Robinson Cano was 0 for 5 with an uncharacteristic 2 strikeouts, and Dioner Navarro was 1 for 5 with a single. Cano's night included going 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts against lefties; while I don't have Cano's career LHP/RHP splits, it would be interesting to find out if he does have a problem facing lefthanders, so I'll attempt to keep a closer eye on that. As Trenton has fought to get back to respectability, Tampa has really struggled. They lost by the score of 5 to 4 last night to extend their losing streak to 6 games. Bronson Sardinha was 0 for 5, but managed to get on base once due to a hit by pitch. Ferdin "I wish I could hit like Miguel" Tejada was 0 for 2 with 2 walks, if nothing else, it's nice to see the walks because Tejada is nothing more than a singles hitter at this point. That's even stretching it a bit as he hasn't been getting any type of hit consistently this season. I wouldn't expect Tampa to come out of their hitting funk tonight either, as LHP Andy Sisco, a top pitching prospect from the Cubs organization, will take the mound for the opposition. At the very least it should be a good pitchers duel as Matt "hopefully I will be promoted after this start considering the need for pitching at AA Trenton" DeSalvo will go for the Tampa squad. After their hottest streak of the season Battle Creek has lost back-to-back games. Steven White started last night's game and was ineffective, mostly due to control problems, as he lasted 6 innings and gave up 5 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts. The right-hander has struggled with his control all season and now has 14 walks in 23 innings. TJ Beam was dominant out of the bullpen to hold the fort after White left. In his lone inning of work all Beam gave up was 1 hit, while striking out the side. The hitters had a decent night, despite the loss. Erold Andrus, was not a part of the positive aspect of the decent offense. The LF was 0 for 3 with a sacrifice fly. Melky Cabrera was the second worst of the offensive prospects as he only managed a single in 5 at bats, while striking out twice is as surprising for him as it is for Robinson Cano. After getting two days off since being hit by a pitch, Eric Duncan returned to the 3 spot in the lineup and went 2 for 4, both hits were singles, Duncan even got his 4th stolen base of the season. Hector Made continued his hot hitting of late by hitting 2 singles in 4 at bats and Estee Harris had another "I'm not quite dead yet" night by also getting 2 singles in 4 at bats. Harris is now hitting .232, and to use one of the ESPN stats I've always hated, when making contact, Harris is hitting .419. *** Just to put the word out, I'm going to attempt to a site re-design in the next couple weeks as school is over in 8 days. In addition, I will attempt to start giving some draft coverage as things start to pick up. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Thursday, May 20, 2004
 
BAD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS...KIND OF Columbus was shut out 2 to 0 last night. The offensive effort was...offensive as Bubba Crosby was 0 for 4, Andy Phillips was 0 for 3, though he did draw a walk, and Caonabo Cosme was 0 for 3. This was Crosby's first truly bad night in a while so I wouldn't put too much stock into this, same with Phillips; it was also nice to see Phillips draw a walk. Cosme on the other hand, is either deep in a slump or regressing to his proper level of performance. Sadly, I think he is regressing to his normal performance and though he was hitting .340 through his first 100 at bats, Cosme is now down to .289/.360/.407/.264(AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) as he is 5 for his last 35. Interestingly enough, in this game, Cosme played SS and Phillips played 2B. I think this may be a sign that the Yankees believe Phillips has a superior bat to Cosme, which is probably true, and they are once again testing his defensive abilities at 2B in order to see what he does over there. If he can continue to hit well, while holding his own defensively, and there continue to be 2B problems at the major league level, Phillips may receive a shot. Brad "I heard the Yankees have a potential 5th starter opening" Halsey took the Columbus loss, but pitched somewhat well, going 7.1 innings and allowing 6 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. In 49 innings of AAA ball, Brad Halsey now has the following stats: 50 hits, 23 runs, 21 earned runs, 1 home run, 13 walks, 25 strikeouts. He also sports a 3.86 ERA. If the Yankees are to make any big deals this summer, I think they should try to sell Halsey as an important part of the package, he is a lefty with decent stuff, fastball in the 90 range, and gets good results, leading the system in wins last year. In addition, at 23, Halsey is not too old to be considered a prospect. Due to his low strikeout rate I am not convinced about Halsey's chance of being successful down the line, though there is still a chance he may be as K rates are indicators and not definite signs of success. Trenton won 6 to 1 yesterday and as has been the case with that team this season, Robinson Cano was the star of the game. Cano was 1 for 3 with a home run and 2 walks, 1 intentional. On the season the 2B now has a line of .324/.386/.592/.322. With a strong recovery from a brief slump, and the improved power and patience numbers, I am increasingly inclined to say that this is the new Robinson Cano. I am also about ready to say definitively that this man needs to be promoted. There is a gaping hole at 2B at the major league level and this guy is clearly better than his competition at AA. Dioner Navarro, who is attempting to overcome a slow start to his season, went 1 for 4 with a single as the wait for him to start driving the ball again continues. The important Trenton pitching news has nothing to with yesterday's game. Rather, it is an injury report. Apparently there is a reason Ramon Ramirez has been so awful this season. He had been having some shoulder issues and was attempting to pitch through them. The good news is that at least Ramirez has a reason for pitching so poorly so far, the bad news is that it is a shoulder issue and no matter how an organization tries to spin it, shoulder issues with pitchers are almost never minor. In the other bit of Trenton injury news, Matt Smith was having some elbow issues though he and the team claim they are nothing serious. Once again, I am going to have to doubt what the team says on the issue of the severity of a pitcher's injury. These cases are examples of why pitching prospects are so dangerous to put too much faith into; there is a huge injury derailment rate. The Tampa team, that once seemed unstoppable, lost its 5th in a row and 7 out of its last 9 by a score of 6 to 0. The "highlight" was Bronson Sardinha who was 1 for 4 with a single. Also, this game was the 2004 A+ debut of Ferdin Tejada whose struggles with the bat have seen him demoted to the level where he played most of last year. In addition to going 1 for 4 with a single and 2 Ks, Tejada also made an error. Battle Creek did not have a game last night. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
 
SOME GOOD, SOME BAD AAA Columbus slugged it out with their opponent today, but eventually lost by a score of 15 to 11. Bubba Crosby played the role of leadoff hitter and was 1 for 5 with a single and a walk. That's now 6 walks compared to 31 at bats for Crosby, though he is not hitting with much power. Andy Phillips continues to hit, as he was 2 for 5 with a double and a walk. This slugfest also featured Colter Bean getting absolutely rocked, in his worst appearance of the year, Bean pitched 1.1 innings and gave up 3 hits, 1 home run, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. The prospect duo from Trenton was very successful tonight. Cano was only 1 for 4, but his lone hit was a triple and Navarro was 1 for 2 with a single and 2 walks. After a horrible slump, Navarro is back on track, once he gets his power to its normal level he can begin to assert his position as the top catching prospect in the game as his plate patience/discipline this season has been about as good as it can get. Cano on the other hand, staved off his slump very quickly and is clearly dominating the competition at this point. Bronson Sardinha is the Robinson Cano of the Tampa team, except take away the incredible power and replace it with incredible plate patience/discipline. Either way, the point is that Sardinha is dominating his level offensively. After a 2 for 4 night, with two singles, his seasonal line now sits at .341/.423/.449/.303 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA). The power is still not where you want it to be, but it has improved as the season has progressed and the Florida State League is a tough league in which to hit homers. Jeff Karstens started the game and rebounded from a poor outing his last time out by going 5.1 innings and giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and striking out 4. Battle Creek saw their hot streak come to a close, especially offensively, as they lost 3 to 1. Melky Cabrera was able to barely extend his hitting streak by going 1 for 4 with a single. Erold Andrus was also 1 for 4 with a single. Estee Harris had one less at bat, due to his position in the lineup, but otherwise managed the same result. Harris also struck out once for good measure, giving him an even 50 in 108 at bats, which is always nice. Hector Made, who was 2 for 3 with 2 singles, had the best offensive night of any member of the team as he continues his hot hitting of late. The starter for the Battle Creek game was Elvys Quezada who went 6 innings and allowed 5 hits, 1 home run, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. I like Quezada as a future long man, but not much else. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Monday, May 17, 2004
 
FITTING POST TITLE *Unless otherwise noted, all stats listed for hitters and relief pitchers are combined Sunday and Monday performances. AAA Columbus won on Sunday and lost on Monday. The most important facet of their Sunday victory was the performance of Jose Contreras. Contreras went 7 innings and had some good, 4 hits and 12 strikeouts, mixed in with some bad, 120+ pitches, 2 HBP, and 2 wild pitches. The Akron team was also able to steal 5 bases on Contreras, which includes a rarely attempted and probably even more rarely successful, triple steal. When Contreras went to the minors there were a couple problems that you could point out about him right away. One was that despite his overpowering stuff he was a nibbler and this led to high pitch counts and walks once he became unfocused. In addition, Contreras was terrible at holding runners. Judging by the numbers, neither of these problems has really been solved yet. After Contreras, Scott Proctor came in to pitch the 8th and went 1 inning and had a clean line other than 2 strikeouts. In Monday's game, Colter Bean was able to provide serviceable relief as one of the only Clippers not to get beat up. He went 1.2 innings, allowed 1 hit, walked 1, and struck out 1 as he continues to get the job done. Cosme, 1 for 7 with a single, seems to either be in a slump or just regressing to the mean, clearly, I am hoping it is a slump, but it is more likely a regression. Andy Phillips, 2 for 8 with 2 home runs, seems to have had no problems making the jump to AAA and is playing extremely well. Phillips is already 4th on the team in home runs, with 4, despite only having 53 at bats at the level. Bubba "The People's Champ" Crosby made his return to the lineup on Monday after missing some time and he promptly went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Like so many other prospects or players in the minors, the walks are the key development. The more Bubba draws, the more potentially useful he makes himself, and therefore, the more likely he will be to return to the majors. As a team, Trenton had recently shown some signs of life, only to fall back into the doldrums by losing on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday Sean Henn made the start and had mixed results. It was nice to see him boost his strikeout numbers a bit by striking out 7 men in 6 innings, but he did give up 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, and 3 walks. Henn is really going to have to work on his control issues in order to continue his aspirations of being a major league starter as he now has 17 walks in only 40.2 innings. On Monday, "Tiger" Wang started and was a bit more successful than Henn as he also went 6 innings. Despite giving up more earned runs, 3, than Henn, Wang's start was so successful because of the peripheral numbers. He only allowed 5 hits, walked none, and struck out 6. After being awful for quite some time, Dioner Navarro seems to be getting his plate productivity back together as he was 3 for 8 with a walk. All 3 hits were singles so it is clear that Navarro is not all the way back as he usually showcases quite a bit of extra base pop. Robinson Cano, 4 for 9 with a double and a home run, also seems to have recovered from his brief slump as he nears the point where I can say with 100% confidence that he is a new person, so to speak. Tampa had no Sunday games, but played twice on Monday and was absolutely ravaged twice on Monday. The combined score of the games was 19 to 3. Jose Valdez started the first game and was knocked around for 6 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned runs, and 1 home run in only 4 innings of work. Valdez also walked and struck out 2. Jeremy King started the second game and cemented his position in the bullpen by going 3 innings and allowing 7 hits, 6 runs, and 6 earned runs. King also walked 1 and struck out 2. At the plate, Bronson "I am the only prospect currently playing for this team" Sardinha went 1 for 6 with a single and a walk. Bronson is a little cool right now, but I think that may be attributable to the time off he got for the suspension when he was just finding his power stroke. I am not worried. Including victories on Sunday and Monday, the Battle Creek Yankees have now put together their longest streak of success of the season as they have won 4 contests in a row and 5 of their last 6. On Sunday Chase Wright started and was decent as he picked up the victory for going 6.1 innings and allowing 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and striking out 2. The Monday starter was Abel Gomez and he was his usual wildly successful self as he pitched 6 innings and allowed 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 4 walks, and struck out 4. Gomez is undefeated, 4 and 0, and has an ERA currently sitting at 2.13 Melky Cabrera, 5 for 9 with a double, a triple, and a walk, is unstoppable right now. Other than one short stretch or two, Cabrera has been one of the best players on this team and he is hitting so well, and beginning to draw enough walks, that I wonder if a promotion is not too far enough. At the very least he is a likely candidate to be in A+ by late June. Hector Made, 2 for 7 with 2 singles and 2 walks, looks as though he may be on the verge of something. He is 5 for his last 13 with 4 walks, the key stat being the walks. While he drew a ton of walks last year, Made had not been doing such a great job of maintaining plate patience this year, so I hope this recent spurt is a sign that he has in fact rediscovered this facet of his offensive game. If he has, expect his other numbers to begin rising in the second half of the season. Eric Duncan is 1 for 4 with a single, a walk, and an HBP in his last two games. The reason for the relatively low number of plate appearances is that Duncan was HBP in Monday night's game, during his first plate appearance, and left the game. I think it was more a precautionary move than anything else, but we will see. Estee Harris is 2 for his last 8, which is mediocre, but not horrible, despite both hits being singles. What is horrible is that Harris has struck out 5 times in those at bats. Harris now has 49 strikeouts in 105 at bats and I cannot imagine him staving off his demotion much longer. Especially with the Staten Island season coming up, which is where I think he would be demoted. Erold Andrus, 4 for 7, all singles, and a walk, is on fire right now. Over a longer stretch he is 7 for 14 with 2 doubles, a home run, and 3 walks. Once again there is a boost in walk rate followed by a sudden spike in production; it seems so simple. Here's to hoping that Andrus continues the improvement. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Sunday, May 16, 2004
 
YESTERDAY WAS A GOOD DAY Though yesterday was a good day for most Yankee prospects; Caonabo Cosme cannot be included in that group. Cosme went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and 1 walk, as he continues his return to Earth. Cosme's problem in the past has been that he has had less than desirable plate patience and bad plate discipline. Thus far in 125 at-bats, Cosme has 13 walks and 22 strikeouts. Andy Phillips was decent at the plate, going 1 for 4 with a single. On the mound, Alex Graman put together a solid performance. Graman went 5.1 innings, allowed only 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, walked 2 and struck out 8. Nice to see the Ks with decent control from Graman. Despite how horrible he was in his sole big league start I think the Yankees would perhaps be better off using Graman or someone like Brad Halsey as their fill-in 5th starter, rather than going the Tanyon Sturtze route that they seem to be focused on. With Sturtze, you know he sucks. You know he is a bad pitcher and has been awful for quite some time and he's not going to get better. With Graman or Halsey, you don't know what will happen, and this can be a good thing. Perhaps they will suck, but then they would only be as bad as Sturtze, but there is the slight chance that they may do well or hold their own and then you have a chip for the future rotation or a trading chip. To go and get Tanyon Sturtze is just a foolish sideways move. Then again, this could all mean nothing if Contreras comes back and pitches well. Out of the bullpen, Felix Heredia went 1.1 innings, allowed 1 hit and struck out 2, otherwise his line was clean. Colter Bean faced one hitter and struck him out. Heredia has struck out 5 in 3.2 innings, though I wouldn't think too much of this as it has been a while since he posted any sort of consistent strong strikeout rate. Trenton won for the first time since the 7th of May, so they clearly had a good day as a team. Ramon Ramirez was a part of that goodness. Ramirez continues his plummet off of the prospect radar by only lasting 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, walked 3, struck out 7, and allowed a homer. In his 16 innings since his demotion to AA, Ramirez has the following numbers: 24 hits, 12 runs, 12 earned runs, 2 home runs, 7 walks, and 12 strikeouts. Not pretty. Dioner Navarro was the other Trenton prospect to have a poor night as he was 0 f0r 3, though the opposition was respectful of him enough to give him an intentional walk. Robinson Cano seems like he's ready to hit again, he was 2 for 4 with his 4th home run of the season and his line now sits at .317/.379/.548/.308 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA). In 126 at bats, Cano has shown decent patience and good discipline with an 11 walk to 17 strikeout ratio. Most impressive has been his power, as Cano has sent 18 of his 40 hits for extra bases. Matt DeSalvo had an excellent start for Tampa, going 7 innings and allowing 1 hit, 1 run, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, and striking out 4. Perhaps it is time to move the man to another level. In 45 innings, DeSalvo, who went undrafted despite being the NCAA career leader in wins and strikeouts, has the following numbers: 29 hits, 13 runs, 8 earned runs, 0 home runs, 15 walks, 49 strikeouts. In terms of league context, DeSalvo is 1st in ERA, 4th in WHIP, and tied for 2nd in strikeouts on the FSL leader boards. Bronson Sardinha had a good time at the plate, going 2 for 4, but a rough go in the field, committing 3 errors. Mario Holmann, one of two 17-year-olds currently on the Tampa team, was used as a pinch runner. Holmann and Vechionacci, the other 17-year-old, are being used sparingly at Tampa, most likely due to roster shortages at Tampa. However, if they perform well or look like they belong, I would not be too surprised to see them spend their summer at Staten Island for short-season ball, rather than going the typical 17-year-old Yankee prospect route of spending the summer in the Gulf Coast League. The Battle Creek Yankees prospects, overall, had good nights at the plate, in the field, and on the mound. The game was started by Tyler Clippard, who had a performance similar to the one DeSalvo had at A+ as he went 7 innings and allowed 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, walked 1, and struck out 4 with no home runs allowed. Clippard has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, dominating the competition outside of the Kane County Cougars. T.J. "no longer Abel's oppressor" Beam made his first appearance out of the bullpen and had what should be considered a typical Beam performance. He had a good K rate, 3 in 2 innings while giving up 2 hits, and gave up the long ball, but only 1 in this outing. Melky Cabrera continued his transformation into an elite prospect, as he was 2 for 4 with a single, a triple, and a walk. The triple was his second non-double extra base hit of the year; both triples and his second consecutive 3 bag extra base hit. Obviously, what is going to happen is that Cabrera will continue to hit some more triples and then move on the home runs, as he makes sure he gets tons of every extra base hit type. Eric Duncan was 2 for 4 with a single, a home run, and a walk. One of his outs was a long fly ball that nearly left the park, which is my way of saying, if you didn't realize it already; Eric Duncan is an incredible hitter. Erold Andrus went 2 for 4 with a single, a double, and a walk. Andrus really needs to step his walk rate up a notch because though he has shown a ton of power, 47.1% of his hits for extra bases, he is hitting for a low average, .246, and not drawing a ton of walks, 6 walks in 138 at bats, so he is an ineffective offensive player. Hector Made was 1 for 2 with a single, 2 walks, and a hit by pitch. Estee Harris' night was mixed. It was great that he hit a looooong home run and walked once, but unfortunate that he made out in his 3 other at bats, and terrible that all 3 of those outs were strikeouts. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Friday, May 14, 2004
 
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER Sorry for the delay in updates, it was due to the Blogger site acting up on my computer, anyway, let's get into the developments of the last few days. In Thursday's AAA Columbus game, Felix Heredia had another successful relief outing as he went 1 inning and struck out one hitter, otherwise his line was clean. The game was a 10 to 4 victory for Columbus and 6 of those runs were scored by 2B Caonabo Cosme and 3B Andy Phillips. Cosme was 1 for 3 with a single to go along with a walk and a sacrifice. Phillips was 3 for 4 with a double and a walk. In tonight's game, Columbus once again won, though the offense was much weaker as the score was 3 to 1. Cosme and Phillips did not prove to be of much offensive help as the two went 0 for 7. The opposing team was stifled by the pitching of Brad Halsey who went 7 innings and allowed 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, walked 2, and struck out 4. The game allowed Halsey to lower his season ERA to 4.32, and after a rough start, Brad has really begun to settle in for the AAA team. If the Yankee rotation continues to have problems Halsey may get a look, but his potential effectiveness is not easily desirable. The main things you want a pitching prospect to do are keep the ball in the park, not allow too many hits, keep the walks to a minimum, and strike batters out. In 41.2 innings of work, Halsey has allowed 44 hits, 1 home run, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts. He passes the home run and walk tests with flying colors, clears the hit test, depending on your standard, but fails the strikeout test. The problem with this is that the strikeout test is potentially the most important because if you are not missing bats at the minor league level, it is unlikely that you will do so at the major league level, and when major league hitters make contact they tend to send the ball a long way. Despite this, it is still encouraging to see Halsey experiencing some success as the 23-year-old left-hander has moved through the system very quickly. The Yankees recently called up Dave Parrish in order to serve as the backup catcher when Jorge Posada went down with an injury. This call up served to highlight several things. One is the huge drop-off in effectiveness from Posada to his backups; the other is the relative lack of short-term replacements for Posada. Now, were Posada to go down for a longer period of time, I think the Yankees would have a hard time denying Dioner Navarro, despite his power or lack thereof. Speaking of Navarro...he and the Trenton Thunder have really been struggling as of late. They lost yesterday and tonight. In yesterday's game, Matt Smith had an awful start going 4.2 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, walked 4, and struck out 2. At the plate, Robinson Cano snapped his 0 for 12 stretch by going 1 for 4 with a single, not much, but encouraging. Dioner Navarro, on the other hand, continued his slide with a 0 for 3 night, though he did manage a walk. In tonight's 7 to 2 loss, Cano showed more signs of getting himself back together by going 1 for 2 with a single, and more importantly, drawing 2 walks. Navarro has now been moved to the number 2 slot in the lineup, ahead of Cano, in an attempt to jump-start his bat, but unfortunately it did not work tonight, as he was 0 for 4. Tampa got back on track winning both their Thursday and Friday games. In the Thursday game Jeremy King was able to pitch 2 innings of relief, where he allowed 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 3. I was originally drawn to the 22-year-old King as a starting pitching prospect, but he has been primarily a relief pitcher this year and pretty effective thus far. His totals are: 28 innings, 23 hits, 11 runs, 9 earned runs, 1 home run, 10 walks, 25 strikeouts. If he can be effective out of the bullpen he will probably accelerate his journey through the system, though I do not consider relievers to be much of prospects. In the Thursday game, Bronson Sardinha made his return from a suspension and went 1 for 4 with a single, and then in Friday night's game he went 1 for 4 with a single and a walk. Battle Creek's Friday game was cancelled, but they played on Thursday and won. Steven White went 7 innings, allowed 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, walked 1, and struck out 5. The lineup was a bit different last night as Hector Made went 2 for 4 with 2 singles from his new position in the 2-hole. Regular leadoff hitter Melky Cabrera continued to show signs of improvement as he had a single in 3 at bats and walked once. Eric Duncan had a single in 4 at bats and Erold Andrus was 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. Cabrera is in a similar position to Robinson Cano in that both guys are hitting for a really high average right now, with some signs of power, more so for Cano, but the key to their offensive development will be in the improvement of their plate patience. Since both guys have had walk rates that have steadily increased as the season has progressed, it shows they are taking steps in the right direction. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Thursday, May 13, 2004
 
CH-CH-CHANGES Columbus had the day off yesterday so the highest level of the organization to play was Trenton. Trenton had a doubleheader for the second day in a row and the results were not pretty. Robinson Cano was a horrid 0 for 6 with 3 strikeouts, which is very strange considering that Cano does not strike out often. Cano is now 0 for his last 12, all against the New Hampshire Fishercats. Dioner Navarro did not do much better yesterday, going 1 for 6 with 3 strikeouts. In the New Hampshire Fishercats series Navarro is 2 for 11. Considering how poorly these two have performed against New Hampshire, and that the team as a whole has scored 6 runs in 4 games, I'm not going to worry too much. I'll just chalk it up to facing dominant pitching and hope that both players break out soon, though tonight's final game against New Hampshire does not give much hope for this immediately happening. "Tiger" Wang started the first game of the doubleheader and lasted 6 innings, allowing 9 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 3. In other words, he was very mediocre. The most exciting developments of the day took place at A+ Tampa. Firstly, Rudy Guillen was placed on the DL yesterday, I have not been able to confirm what his injury is thus far, but when I am able to I will let you all know. Secondly, I suspect that Bronson Sardinha is either injured and taking a couple days off or he was placed on the disabled list, though I have no way of confirming this at the time as the Tampa management is being very difficult. Though this may all seem to be bad, the exciting aspect of it is that in place of Sardinha, Tampa started Marcos Vechionacci at 3B yesterday. Why is that so exciting? Well, Vechionacci is 17. For the Yankees to put a 17-year-old player in A+ for any duration of time is almost unheard of, so you would think that Vechionacci must be an incredible talent. Though I do not have much scouting information on Marcos, the few newspaper snippets I have seen tout his as an incredible talent, though that type of talk is very common with prospects. Statistically Marcos seems to be a well-rounded talent. Playing in the Dominican Summer League in 2003, Vech put up a line of .307/.419/.448 and only made 5 errors in 50 games. From those numbers it seems he has power, patience, defensive consistency, and his plate discipline was also top notch with a walk to strikeout ratio of 31 to 18. The only problem is that I'm not sure what type of relevance DSL numbers have to full-season performance, either way, Vechionacci's past performance is very encouraging. I have actually wanted to say something about him for some time, but he had not played until last night when he went 1 for 4 with a single. It'll be interesting to see what the Yankees do if Vech does well and/or once Sardinha is promoted to AA where the Thunder have a huge hole at 3B. Another Tampa prospect that has not played in a while is Deivi Mendez, considering how well Mendez was doing I don't think he would be rested or benched for this long. That, combined with his extensive history, leads me to believe that Mendez may also be injured. A little under a week after I decide to mention Jeff Kartsens, he gets shelled. The young right-hander went 3.2 innings and allowed 12 hits, 8 runs, 8 earned runs, walked 1, and struck out 2. Not much positive to take away from this performance. Battle Creek had an exciting, but ultimately disappointing game as they lost a back and forth contest 9 to 6. Elvys Quezada had enormous control issues and allowed 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, walked 1, and struck out 3 in 3 innings. Though the walk total does not reflect the control problems it should be noted that Quezada also hit 2 batters and just could not get the ball into the strike zone with any sort of consistency. A- offensive superstars Eric Duncan and Melky Cabrera both had good days at the plate. Duncan was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and for those of you who want "clutch" players, Duncan is hitting about .450 with runners in scoring position, leading to his 23 RBI. Cabrera was 2 for 4 and had a triple, his first non-double extra base hit of the year; Cabrera also had a walk and continues to improve his overall numbers. Despite what is a meager walk total at the moment, Melky Cabrera has a very solid approach at the plate, though he is a hacker, he will not get himself out by swinging at pitches way out of the zone and as his numbers go up and pitchers realize they can't just throw it down the middle to him, his walk total will boost since he has no problem taking borderline pitches. I think that is what is happening right now, as evidenced by the boost in walk rate as of late. Estee "must fight a demotion in every way possible" Harris was 1 for 4 with only 1 strikeout. Seemingly in a quest to show the team that he can contribute in many different ways, in order to not get demoted, Harris picked up 2 stolen bases yesterday, his first 2 of the season. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
 
2005 IS THE YEAR Rudy Guillen began the 2004 season incredibly hot for the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. Hot in the sense that he was hitting a ton of singles and his batting average was high, but he was not walking much or hitting for much power. The decline in power was especially disappointing because power has been Guillen's calling card since he emerged as a prospect. Eventually, the singles began to stop coming so easily for Guillen and his numbers have slipped to .271/.313/.346/.227 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) on the season. Noting where his numbers currently stand and acknowledging how he did last year as well as how he began this year, I began to make a connection. My connection leads me to believe that Rudy Guillen will perform in a mediocre fashion for the most of the year, before exploding on the AA Eastern League in 2005. Why is that? Because Rudy Guillen '03 to '04 thus far looks very similar to Robinson Cano '02 to '03. Here is what they did in A-: .276/.321/.445/.256 32.8%(XBH%) 16.3(ABperBB) 1:2.69(BB:K) .260/.311/.414/.243 35.9%(XBH%) 15.4(ABperBB) 1:2.72(BB:K) The first line is what Cano put up for the Greensboro Bats of the South Atlantic League in 2002. The second line is what Guillen put up for the Battle Creek Yankees of the Midwest League in 2003. The ratios of extra base hits, walks, and strikeouts are incredibly similar, though the actual production numbers are in favor of Cano. This is explainable by using Baseball America's Park Factors for 2004 (based on 2003 hitting data), while the Midwest League had a 975 park factor compared to the South Atlantic League's 950, the Battle Creek stadium has a 974 park factor compared to the Greensboro Stadium's 997. So theoretically, Cano may have benefited from his home park, though this evidence is circumstantial. What is important is the closeness of the ratios. Accepting that what they did in A- is close, let's check out their A+ performance: .276/.313/.377/.235 23.8%(XBH%) 21.5(ABperBB) 1:2.88(BB:K) .271/.313/.346/.227 19.4%(XBH%) 16.6(ABperBB) 1:2.88(BB:K) Playing in the same ballpark, Cano once again had the better performance, despite the overall ratios being very similar. It is due to these similar statistical profiles, in addition to similar hitting scouting reports, that I feel Rudy Guillen will explode in 2005, in a very similar vein to what Robinson Cano is currently doing. However, seeing as both Cano and Guillen have small 2004 sample sizes, this could all just be nothing, but it's worth thinking about. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
 
COMEBACK KIDS I had an AP examination this morning. Knowing that, I figured it would not be smart to stay up past midnight since I would have to wake up at 7 in order to get to the exam on time. The Yankee game was able to keep me up heading into 1 AM, when I finally decided that I would go to sleep. At the time the Yankees were down by 1 and headed to the bottom of the 9th after Mo Rivera had just given up a 2 run home run, despite this I was fully confident that the Yankees would emerge victorious. As my roommate, who loves to chide me about the Yankees, told me that they were going to lose I calmly told him "they'll find a way to win". With that, I closed my laptop and went to sleep. When I awoke the first thing I saw was an instant message from a fellow Yankee fan, which I had received at 1:25:11 AM, it simply said "YANKEES WIN". Usually I'd be incredibly excited at this, but I expected it so I gave a smile of contentment and got to finding out exactly how the Yankees had won. Simply put, that is the best thing about this team. Now that they've started hitting it always feel like there are enough outs to win the game. No matter how bad the starting pitching is you know the bats will pull it out. Speaking of starting pitching (slick, aren't I?), Kevin Brown was bad last night. Brown's ERA is now up to 3.42, and really has not been that great outside of the games against the Devil Rays and one game against the Red Sox. Before the season I thought Brown would have a tough time due to the Yankee infield defense. However, thus far the infield defense has played about as well as you could hope and what Brown has been hurt by thus far is probably his outfield defense. This is my current line of thinking because he is allowing a lot more doubles and home runs than usual, which I would think tend to be fly balls or line drives, mainly the outfield's responsibility, and the Yankee outfield defense is well below average by any metric. Then again, just like every other stat this early in the season, it could all be a sample size fluke. Brown isn't exactly helping himself by having his lowest strikeout rate since 1991 either. While Kenny Lofton has had his defensive..."moments", thus far this season, he has done a good job on offense. He is getting on base from the top of the order and hitting for power despite his batting average only being .225 in a meager 40 at bats because he has greatly increased his walk rate from its recent previous levels in addition to almost always hitting triples. The power I don't care so much about, that's just an added bonus, but the improvement in the walk rate is key. One of the things that scared me about the Lofton signing, offensively, was that his walk rate and had dropped considerably in recent seasons and the times he played well, and actually contributed to an offense, it was entirely due to fluky batting average boosts. So if he didn't hit for average he became useless, by walking so much Kenny is making sure he is useful, even in his slumps. Kenny's return has also displaced Derek Jeter from atop the lineup, which is something that made me happy before yesterday's game. My reasoning was that Jeter had been slumping so horribly, despite his 2 for 5 with a homer game on Sunday, that it made no sense to put him in the lineup position where he saw the most plate appearances. I thought this despite the game because Jeter had had seeming "breakout" games before, but was never able to build on it. Well, Jeter has silenced me for now as he had back to back multiple hit games for the first time this season. Now all Jeter has to do is hit about .350 the rest of the way to achieve his normal Jeter numbers. By the way, Jeter is the favorite for the AL Gold Glove at SS at this point, there's still a ton of games left to be played though. A-Rod had a good night, going 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and 2 stolen bases as he has now passed Soriano in productivity (check out the tracker on the right) and probably will never look back. Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, and Hideki Matsui, 3 of the Yankee's best hitters thus far this season, went a combined 1 for 13 with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts, yet the Yankees were still able to win. Part of this was due to Gary Sheffield picking up the game winning double, though he was only 1 for 5 with a walk, and hopefully that is the hit that really gets Sheffield started as it would be nice to have some power directly behind Giambi and make the lineup that much more fearsome. The other big offensive contributor was Ruben Sierra, who went 2 for 5, and at this point should definitely be starting ahead of Weekend at Bernie's. Hopefully my proclaiming Bernie dead will ignite his offensive ability, much in the way it has done so for Ruben Sierra. When Bernie came into the game as a pinch-hitter he proceeded to strike out and end the streak of torrid hitting that had been generated from the 9 spot by...Miguel Cairo. Cairo continues to hit over his head, and hopefully the Yankees continue to capitalize on this. As dramatic as last night's game was, I wouldn't hold my breath for that happening tonight as I think it will be the Yankees by a good margin. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
 
CONTRERAS AND THE GANG The most publicized news from yesterday's minor league action was that of Jose Contreras' return to the mound. Contreras picked up the win as he went 6.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and 2 home runs. Reports of the game say that Contreras struggled with the strike zone, which is all that really matters. If Contreras cannot throw strikes major league hitters will tee off on him because they know what is coming, as the 2 home runs show, minor league hitters can do it too. Another Yankee pitcher worked in yesterday's Columbus game as well, Felix Heredia. Heredia went 1.1 innings, gave up 1 hit, 1 walk, and had 2 strikeouts. I'm not going to lie. I would rather not have Heredia come back, because as soon as he does, Torre will inevitably put him into high leverage situations. The last time Heredia could get strikeouts consistently was 2001, he has never had good control, and he is prone to the home run. Basically, Heredia does everything you don't want your key relievers to do, but Torre will inevitably make him a key reliever because...I don't know. He's Joe Torre. Caonabo Cosme was 0 for 4 as his average fell to .325 and Andy Phillips was 1 for 4 with a single and he also played 3B. AA Trenton had a doubleheader yesterday and they lost both games and are now at 4 games lost in a row. The first game was started by Sean Henn and he is doing his best to temper my early season excitement as he went 6 innings and allowed 8 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 3. I was looking for Henn to have huge strikeout numbers this year to solidify his prospect status, and hearing about him having his velocity back made me anticipate this even more, but Henn has only 26 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. Robinson Cano had a rough day at the plate, as he was a combined 0 for 6 with a walk. The recent surge of hype surrounding him, mostly from me, is obviously getting to his head. The good, despite the 0fer, is that Cano walked and now has a 9 walk to 13 strikeout ratio in 110 at bats, which is much improved over what he did last year and a sign of him having made a real improvement in his game. Dioner Navarro was 1 for 5 with a double and 2 walks as he continues to search for his power stroke; nice to see the walks are coming in at a higher rate than ever though. Jose Valdez had some good signs and some bad signs yesterday. In 6 innings the bad was that he gave up 4 runs and 3 earned runs, but on the plus side he limited the opposition to 6 hits and struck out 6 while walking 2. Unfortunately, no one significant played on the offensive end of things. The other pitcher whose start I had been hyping was Abel Gomez. Gomez showcased his good aspects, 5 strikeouts in 5.2 innings, along with only giving up 3 hits, in addition to the ugly side, 4 walks. Once Gomez consistently gets his control together, he will really take off, as if already being one of the best pitchers in a full season league at the age of 19 isn't enough. Shockingly, Eric Duncan did not hit a home run yesterday, but still showcased his power by going 1 for 3 with a double and a sacrifice fly and all signs point to him still being hot. Oh yeah, he's also getting some more national exposure now, as evidenced by a mention on Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet feature. Melky Cabrera also seems to be getting really settled in with Battle Creek as he went 1 for 3 with a walk and now has a 9 game hitting streak. SS Hector Made was 1 for 4 with a single and Estee "It will soon be here" Harris went 0 for 3 with a walk and the almost expected 2 strikeouts. That's all for Tuesday's minor league action. There should be a ton of stuff for tomorrow or later today as all Yankee affiliates play and the Thunder have another doubleheader. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
 
UPCOMING...STUFF Just to give a heads up, the tentative schedule for today will include a minor league update, followed by a major league update, and if all goes well, an article. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
 
MAJOR LEAGUE Before I proceed with my firs major league musings in a while I have a couple more minor league notes to point out. Last night I was quick to point out today's Battle Creek game, with Abel Gomez returning to the rotation, as the premier matchup of the night. I have since checked on some of the other starters going today, and close attention should also be paid to Jose Contreras, who is starting for AAA Columbus, and Sean Henn, who is going for AA Trenton. The reason Contreras is getting the start is of course because the Yankees demoted him in favor of going with Donovan Osborne as the number 5 starter. On Sunday, Osborne started for the Yankees and was absolutely shelled, by the Mariners of all teams. Osborne only lasted 1.1 innings, but that was enough time for him to give up 6 hits, 6 runs, 6 earned runs, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, and 1 home run. From the little bit of the game I saw, and from glancing at the statistics, it is apparent Osborne had some control problems, throwing only 24 of his 44 pitches for strikes. Donovan Osborne cannot survive without his control, this was known before the season began, and is even clearer now. I am not going to lie and say I was not frustrated with Contreras' season thus far, because I was, but to demote him after 5 starts, thought 4 were bad, is pointless considering his talent and the fact that he has shown he has the ability to perform well before. This just becomes even more clear when the next option is Donovan Osborne. Donovan Osborne. Apparently Contreras' problems were so easily solvable that he is starting for AAA Columbus tonight. Now I must ask, if it is that simple to fix his problems, we go back to the question of why demote him, ESPECIALLY, in favor of Donovan Osborne. Donovan. Osborne. Luckily for Osborne he was bailed out by the Yankee bullpen, which is incredibly strong at this point. Bret Prinz and Gabe White managed to magically pull out good performances, and the three-headed beast of Quanordoera shut the door at the end, like they usually do. I am encouraged by their performances, but at the same time still somewhat cautious to be too optimistic until Rivera puts together a stretch where he isn't walking anyone or Gordon starts striking out some more hitters. Derek Jeter got 2 hits on Sunday, including a home run and while I would love to say he is out of his slump, that is what I was thinking after the Zito homerun and the 3 hit performance against the Royals, but clearly he isn't. Simply put, there is no way Jeter's numbers will look "Jeteresque" at the end of the season. Also, this is not simply a case where singles aren't falling in as his IsoP is way down, and is at a career low level right now. On the "plus" side, if you can call it that, his BB/PA and BB/SO ratios are about the same they were last year. All this evidence leads one to believe that Jeter simply is not driving the ball as much as he usually does, and this makes me think that the reports that he is hiding an injury may in fact be true. Then again, this could all just be a gigantic slump, and he could wake up today and start hitting like its 1999. While Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi continued their hot hitting, I would just like to state that Bernie Williams is done, so you can go ahead and stick a fork in him. *** The Angels come into tonight's series hot, but I expect the Yankees to take at least 2 of 3 due to the injuries they have suffered, though the Erstad injury made them better. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Monday, May 10, 2004
 
TWO DAYS IN ONE On Sunday Bubba Crosby went 2 for 3 with a walk for the Columbus Clippers as they lost to Norfolk 7 to 6. Caonabo Cosme went 1 for 6 with a single and Andy Phillips was 3 for 5 with a home run. Phillips has continued the hot hitting he started the year with at AA Trenton, and though he has played 2B in the past he is currently playing 1B for Columbus. This is probably more a function of Cosme being better defensively than anything else, but as long as both hit it will give the Yankees options for when the major league 2B situation gets worse, which it will. The Sunday game was started by Alex "I blew my only major league chance" Graman, he only lasted 5.1 innings and gave up 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 5. The reason his start was so bad was that he gave up 3 homers and anytime you do that, you're headed for trouble, especially when you usually allow a lot of base runners, which is a Graman trademark as he lacks overpowering stuff or great control. Columbus also had a game today, the key pitching performance in this contest was that of Colter Bean who went 2 innings and had a clean line other than 3 strikeouts to go along with the innings as he continues to mow down minor league batters. If anyone in the major league bullpen begins to slip up, or there is an injury, Bean should probably be given a shot. Andy Phillips continued his torrid pace in this game also as he once again went 3 for 5, but no extra base hits this time around. Interestingly, Phillips played 3B in this contest. Cosme recovered from Sunday's performance, which was one of his weaker offensive ones thus far, by going 2 for 4 with a walk, both hits were singles. Trenton did not play on Monday, but on Sunday Ramon Ramirez continued to build the case for me to never confidently boast about a player as he went 5 innings and gave up 7 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, and 3 walks, Ramirez only struck out 2. The only good thing that I can twist out of this start is that Ramirez managed to avoid giving up a home run, which has historically been a problem of his. Robinson Cano stood as the lone prospect in the lineup for Sunday's Trenton game, but made sure to provide excitement. Cano was a perfect 4 for 4 with 2 doubles. After 26 games, Cano has a line of .346/.400/.596/.329 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA). I'm going to give him a little more time to come back to Earth, but it is getting to the point where I will have to admit that Cano has truly taken the next step that many prospects suddenly take, the one where they elevate their game to the major league level. If the Yankees were a less conservative organization Cano would be banging on the door to the majors as the current 2B situation is far from good or even average. Instead, he is beginning to reach for the AAA doorbell. Sunday saw Tampa stop the bleeding caused by a one game losing streak, which is one of their longest this season, and put together a 6 to 3 victory. Bronson Sardinha had a quiet night, he was 0 for 3 with a walk, but Rudy Guillen got a hit for what seems like the first time in forever. Unfortunately, it was a single and his only hit of the night as he went 1 for 4. In Monday's game, Bronson Sardinha had the day off, but the team managed to win 4 to 2, thanks in large part to the pitching of Matt DeSalvo. DeSalvo's start wasn't as good as his last where he nearly went 7 perfect innings, but it was still very good as he went 5 innings and gave up 7 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and struck out 6. Considering that he is now standing at 38 innings, 28 hits, 12 runs, 8 earned runs, 0 home runs, 13 walks, and 45 strikeouts, I would say it is time to promote this man. At 23-years-old and with those numbers there is nothing left for him to prove at A+. Someone who does have a lot left to prove at the level is Rudy Guillen who went 2 for 4 with 2 singles. After a long cooling period, Guillen has seemingly begun to heat up again as he is 3 for his last 8, unfortunately all his hits are singles and he still has not shown much of his power. If you follow Yankee prospects closely this probably sounds familiar as he seems to be putting together a similar season to what Robinson Cano did in 2003, considering where Cano is and factoring in that Guillen has more talent by all accounts, I do not mind this that much. On Sunday Eric Duncan continued his rampage through the Midwest League as the power hitting 3B went 1 for 2 with a home run and 2 walks. Duncan also got a sac fly to left field that barely stayed in the park. Perhaps more importantly, Duncan made several spectacular plays in the field and his numbers attest to his being much more comfortable at 3B. He may be able to stay there after all, and if he can, his offensive numbers there will be truly incredible. From the top of Sunday's lineup Melky Cabrera was 1 for 4 with a walk. His lone hit was for extra bases so it HAD to be a double, his 12th of the season for those of you keeping count. Cabrera has picked up his walk rate lately, which is great because if he can walk in 10% of his at bats while keeping his other numbers exactly where they are it would solidify his status as a potentially great leadoff hitter. Similar to Rudy Guillen at the level above him, Hector Made had been struggling badly, but on Sunday he managed to go 1 for 4 with a double, the double was only his 5th of the season as Made has not shown the power or patience that he did in Rookie Ball in 2003. On the plus side, Made has played consistent defense at SS, which is especially impressive when put in the context of being a young player. My personal favorite performance from Sunday's game was from the man on the mound, Tyler Clippard. Clippard went 7 innings, gave up 3 hits, and struck out 6, otherwise, his line was clean. Clippard is solidifying himself as one of the steals of a good 2003 Yankees draft. For Monday afternoon's game Eric Duncan took his first 0fer in a while, 0 for 3 to be exact, but he did manage a walk. Melky Cabrera was still strong from the leadoff slot though, as evidenced by his 2 for 5 performance. One of his hits for extra bases, and it was in fact his 13th double of the season. Once again, Cabrera has no extra base hits outside of doubles, which I find incredible, he is playing like the very definition of a guy with gap power. Hector Made continues to warm as he had the best game of his season thus far, 3 for 4 with a double and a home run. It is great to see the power that Made showcased in 2003 re-emerging, now if only the patience could come back. Estee "demotion man" Harris was 0 for 4. Shockingly, only 1 of the outs was a strikeout, so while it sucks that he did not get on base, it is good to see that he made some contact. There were positive and negative signs from the pitching staff today. The negative was provided by Chase Wright who went 2.1 innings and gave up 6 hits, 8 runs, 7 earned runs, walked 5, and struck out 1. One of the hits he gave up was a home run. At the season's outset I was very impressed with Wright's pitching, but he has not really recovered from the beating that Fort Wayne put on him. Though T.J. Beam sucked when he did pitch, filling in for Wright, it was great that he came out of the bullpen. Beam coming out of the bullpen leads me to believe that the Yankees have made the right decision and put Abel Gomez back in the rotation, which makes me a very happy person. Actually, I just checked, and yes, Gomez is back and will start Tuesday, automatically making it tomorrow's most anticipated game. *** Yes, I realize I have yet to do my promised major league update, that's on its way. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
Sunday, May 09, 2004
 
BIG DAY Today is a big day for Yankee pitching prospects as Alex Graman, Ramon Ramirez, and Tyler Clippard will all take the mound. They will be pitching for AAA Columbus, AA Trenton, and A- Battle Creek, respectively. More importantly, the improvement of the Yankee farm system has continued over the course of the last two days. Brad Halsey had a decent outing for Columbus yesterday, as he was able to strike out 6 men in 6 innings while only walking 1, unfortunately, he also gave up 8 hits, 4 runs, and 3 earned runs. I have been worried about Halsey's AAA strikeout rate for some time and despite the rest of his performance being mediocre, this is hopefully a step in the right direction and not an anomaly as the Yankees may be in need of more 5th starter fodder soon. Caonabo Cosme for 2B Watch continued as he hit a homer and a single during the course of his 4 at bats. In 100 at bats on the season, Cosme now has 10 walks and a .500 slugging percentage to go along with his .340 average. The rejuvenation of Bubba Crosby at AAA also continued as the fan favorite had 2 singles in 3 at bats and walked once. The Yankees' newest AA affiliate, Trenton, was absolutely hammered by their old AA affiliate, Norwich, by the score of 16 to 1. Luckily no notable pitching prospects took the mound last night, as there are no positive pitching highlights from that one. Dioner Navarro had last night off so Robinson Cano was left on his own, but still had a good night as the 2B went 2 for 3 with a double. In his 100 at bats, Cano now has 8 walks and a .560 slugging percentage to go along with his .320 average. It's somewhat ironic that the Yankees have high-level 2B doing so well when they are getting almost nothing from 2B. The Tampa Yankees hit a roadblock on their quest to a Florida State League title as they lost yesterday. Much like the Trenton game, it didn't really matter that the pitching gave up 10 runs as no real prospects had an appearance. Similar to the Trenton game, the hottest hitting prospect on the team, Bronson Sardinha, had a good night; Sardinha went 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. It seems like ever since I criticized his lack of power, almost every hit has been an extra base one. Unlike the Trenton game, the other top prospect on the team DID play, and Rudy Guillen, probably wishes he hadn't as he went a painful 0 for 5 with 2 strikeouts. As soon as Tampa wraps up the first half league title, expect Sardinha and a couple others to be promoted. Battle Creek won by a score of 9 to 2 and almost every prospect that participated in the game made a ton of contributions to the win. 2003 4th round draft pick Steven White went 6 innings, allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, walked 4, and struck out 8. Offensively, the star was Eric Duncan, the 3B hit his 3rd home run in 4 games, proving that he is in fact out of his slump and I was wrong ever to doubt that. Overall, Duncan was 2 for 4 with the home run, a single, and a walk. Melky Cabrera also collected 2 hits and a walk; both his hits were singles. Power-hitting 19-year-old OF Erold Andrus, who is a switch hitter, was 2 for 5 with a double and a single. 19-year-old SS Hector Made was 1 for 5 with a single as he is still mired in a slump that has seen his batting average drop from the .290 range to .244. Estee "still fighting my demotion" Harris was the designated hitter and went 1 for 3 with 2 walks and...wait for it...2 strikeouts. I plan on having another minor league update later tonight in addition to a major league one, so keep checking back. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to mcnallyf@taftschool.org
 
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    Alfonso Soriano

    Batting Average:.279
    On-Base Percentage:.322
    Slugging Percentage:.464
    Gross Production Avg:.261

    Alex Rodriguez

    Batting Average:.284
    On-Base Percentage:.372
    Slugging Percentage:.536
    Gross Production Avg:.301

    Nick Johnson

    Batting Average:.258
    On-Base Percentage:.365
    Slugging Percentage:.404
    Gross Production Avg:.265

    Javier Vazquez

    Earned Run Average:4.16
    Strikeouts:111
    Walks:37
    Home Runs:23

    Brandon Claussen

    Earned Run Average:4.02
    Strikeouts:9
    Walks:7
    Home Runs:2