I tried to put a little polish on the turd that was the Reid Brignac acquisition this past weekend. Mike Eder tried like hell to put about 4 more coats of super polish on it over at IIATMS/TYA yesterday. In a world of teeny-tiny, barely there marginal upgrades, Brignac did and does represent a step up from Alberto Gonzalez, and there's something to be said for that. But the plain fact of the matter is that Brignac is a .260 wOBA career hitter who rates out negatively on defense, Nix is a .286 wOBA career hitter who rates out negatively at the position the Yankees need him to play, and the thought of them teaming up to play the position that Derek Jeter has held down for the majority of my life on this planet is depressing as hell.
Reid Brignac sucks at baseball, Jayson Nix sucks at baseball, and together they are going to combine to be the most sucktastic shortstop platoon in recent MLB history. The nearly-as-bad-as-them Eduardo Nunez is somehow still an upgrade from them if and when he comes back from the DL. That's how low things have gotten without Jeter this season, and it's a sad preview of what's to come when life without him finally begins.
While the unexpected success of veterans like Wells and Hafner dominated the early headlines, lately it's the kids getting the bulk of the spotlight as the Yankees continue to get helpful contributions from rookies. 5 in all have made their Major League debut already this season, something that the Yanks haven't done since guys like Mo and Jeter debuted back in '95. For a team that's had its MiL system defined by a lack of upper-level impact talent, it's notable not only for the number of players but also for the fact that the team continues to win ballgames and have those rookies be major contributors to those victories. Vidal Nuno throwing shutout starts, Preston Claiborne getting late-inning outs in big spots, David Adams raking from the middle of the order, it's all great.
Whether you're a prospect hugger or not, something like watching a bunch of homegrown rookies come up and play well is always exciting from a fan's perspective. Those guys are easy to root for and I always find myself paying more attention to their at-bats and plays in the field to see how they look as Major Leaguers. For a number of reasons, I hadn't watched a live Yankee game in a couple weeks up until last night's ESPN broadcast. I got my first ever look at Adams and Austin Romine last night, two guys who I ID'd last year as rookies I expected to contribute this season, and as a fan and a pseudo-prospect hugger here's my take on them.
Michael Pineda has been pitching in simulated and Extended ST games for exactly 4 weeks now. He's gotten positive feedback from all the coaches who have seen him throw, was reported to be throwing mid-90s earlier this month, and is now having his ExST starts stretched out (51 pitches in his last outing) in anticipation of starting his offical 30-day MiL rehab stint soon.
Those details come courtesy of Ken Davidoff, who reported yesterday that Pineda "received strong reviews" from his latest outing on Saturday. The plan is to have him pitch once more on Thursday and next Tuesday to extend his pitch count before starting his rehab assignment. That would put him on track to make his first rehab start either on June 2nd or 3rd depending on the schedules and which affiliate he's assigned to and his return to the Major League roster sometime in early July if everything goes according to plan.
David Phelps is doing a nice job filling in on the back end right now, but between Andy's back issues and Phil Hughes' recent struggles there are still plenty of opportunities for Pineda to work his way back in. This latest development puts a somewhat definitive timeline on when we could see him finally make his Yankee debut.
The Yankees have been rotating so many new bodies through this season that I almost forgot Freddy Garcia was on the roster, and in the rotation, just last season. It was a strange 2 years for Freddy in New York to say the least, and the guys who were on those teams got to see him again last night as the opposing starting pitcher for the Orioles. Freddy can still go out there and give some innings, but if his early SSS numbers were any indication the Yankees had the decided pitching advantage with CC Sabathia on the mound.
- Brilliant piece of hitting by Robinson Cano in the top of the 1st. After wasting a bunch of 2-strike offspeed pitches, he forced Garcia to throw him a fastball, which he promptly deposited in the left field seats for a solo HR.
- CC gave a run back in the bottom of the 2nd after throwing one slider too many to Chris Davis. Sabathia left it up and over the plate and Davis didn't miss it after fouling one off earlier in the at-bat.
- It looked like it was going to be a long night for Freddy after a David Adams HR (his first career Major League HR) in the 2nd, and then he seemed to find his stuff a bit and worked through 5 innings without further damage.
- CC was workmanlike through 6, though he was hardly sharp or dominant. He gave up a lot of hits on the fastball early, but used good slider-change combo to limit damage. All in all, he gave up 8 hits and 2 runs through 6, and Baltimore hitters just looked too comfortable against him.
- Surprisingly, Buck played the matchups and went lefty-lefty to start the 7th and it backfired on him big time. Troy Patton hung a 2-2 curve to Lyle Overbay and Overbay gave the Yanks the lead back with their 3rd solo shot of the night.
- Joe elected not to go to the 'pen in the bottom half and it backfired on him too. CC gave up 2 hits and the tying run in a handful of pitches and the go-ahead one just a few later. Belt-high sliders and changeups a shutdown inning does not make.
- It didn't look good heading into the top of the 9th, until a crumbling Jim Johnson gave up another solo blast to Travis Hafner to tie the game and give us some free baseball. Just an inning of free baseball, though, as consecutive Ichiro and Wells doubles in the 10th got a 2-run rally started and a clean Mo 9th saved the W.