Wednesday, August 3, 2011

AB4AR Summer Vacation

I'll be taking a much needed mini-vacation starting tomorrow.  I'm heading down to Myrtle Beach with 2 friends and will not be bringing my computer with me.  I'm sure I can find access to one easily, but I want this to be a real vacation, so as a result you won't be seeing any new stuff on AB4AR until next Monday.

I know this is devastating news, but don't hang your heads.  During my absence, there's plenty that you, dear readers, can do.  First and foremost on the list should be checking out the official AB4AR Facebook page and "Liking" it, if you haven't already done it.  Feel free to check out AB4AR's Greatest Hits on the homepage, search the archives, whatever.  For the best coverage of the continuing goings on of the Yankees, I would direct everyone to the best in the business, LoHud, RAB, IIATMS, and Larry and the boys at TYA.

Big thanks to everyone for visiting the site, commenting, and hopefully telling their fellow Yankee fans.  It's that stuff that makes doing this solo worth it, so I thank you and I'll promise to be back on Monday morning to fill the tremendous void that my vacation will undoubtedly cause in your lives.

Afternoon Weirdness- The Horse Is A Shark And Swish Can Sing

It's like I've slipped into the Twilight Zone or something in the last 2 hours.

First, a story breaks about MLB investigating A-Rod for participating in illegal underground poker games and possibly leading to a suspension.  I'll be honest, I had no clue that A-Rod even played poker.  I thought he was too busy raking and banging Hollywood has beens.  So this comes as a bit of a surprise to find out that not only does he enjoy getting his Doyle Brunson on, but he plays in high-stakes underground games, has been warned about it before, and now might be facing suspension for it.  Dude, come on.  Just go to AC.

Second, Nick Swisher is releasing an album of cover songs, with kids as his backup singers.  I can't even begin to think of anything to say about this, so I'll just show you the song list and say that I would be interested in hearing Swish take on "Heroes" and "Everyday People."

1. Heroes
2. I Won’t Back Down
3. Where The Green Grass Grows
4. Lean On Me
5. With A Little Help From My Friends
6. Everyday People
7. Proud Mary
8. Take Me Home, Country Roads
9. Joy To The World
10. Hang On Sloopy
11. Jumpin' Jack Flash
12. Believe

Shit's gettin' a little whacky in Yankeeland right now, people.  Take the appropriate action.

The ManBan Promotion Situation Is A Little Weird

(Definitely not a LOOGY.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

On the surface, this move to call Manny Banuelos up to Triple-A actually makes perfect sense.  It's not like Banuelos has been struggling or experiencing growing pains in Double-A this season.  He's got a 3.59 ERA, 4.24 FIP (good but not great), and is still striking out almost a batter an inning.  For a player his age (just turned 20 this year) he's still very much outperforming what he should rightfully be doing as a 20-year-old pitcher.  The only issue he's had this season is an increased walk rate, something not uncommon for 20-year-old pitchers.  It goes against the book on Banuelos, who is praised for his command, but it's not like he's completely lost the ability to throw strikes like Andrew Brackman, it's probably more just needing some fine tuning to his delivery and his approach as he faces better hitters, and that's the kind of thing a pitcher can learn at any level.  So with Nova back with the Yankees for the time being, Brackman presumably being taken out on a boat to be shot soon, and David Phelps still injured, why not send the kid up?

The Yankees just held ManBanout of potential trades for pitching targets that they were interested in acquiring.  They've made a big investment in him, hold him in high regard, and have watched him consistently produce at a high level at every level of the Minors so far.  It's to their benefit to see how Manny's stuff plays at the next level to help them continue to formulate their plan for eventually adding him to the big league rotation, and they can also expose him to better and more experienced coaches and teammates who can help his development and improve his command and approach.  And judging by the results of his start on Tuesday (2 R, 8 K in 5 IP), it looks like his stuff is going to play just fine.  This isn't a panic move to try to rush him into the rotation, and there are no known discussions about ditching the kid's innings limit this year.  Just the next step in the process to becoming the eventual top-tier pitcher that the organization envisions Banuelos being, in almost the same fashion that The Jesus moved up through the system.

But this little blurb from Joel Sherman's Monday piece casts a bit of a shadow on this smart surface move:

"Banuelos will make his Triple-A debut as a starter tomorrow, but the plan will be to bring him along quickly in hopes he usurps Boone Logan as the primary bullpen lefty."

Huh?  Primary bullpen lefty?  That's where the train starts to veer off the tracks.  Teams don't make prospects untouchable in the face of possibly acquiring a top-of-the-line young starter if they're planning on turning that prospect into a LOOGY.  And regardless of how ghastly the left-handed relief options are internally, the Yankees should not be entertaining the thought of converting ManBan to a reliever, even if it is just for the short term.  They've been down this road before with Joba, and everybody knows how that ended.  If the plan is to have Banuelos one day be at the top of the Yankee rotation, then he should be developed and used as a starter and a starter alone.  Tinkering with his approach and pitching style to fit a reliever role could do more harm to his development and innings limit increases than good to the Yankee bullpen.  And Boone Logan or not, with the team in the position they are in right now with regards to the playoff race, there is no need to alter Banuelos' development.

You would think the Yankees would have learned their lesson after the Joba fiasco and the continuing inconsistencies of Phil Hughes, and so far everything they have done in handling ManBan has indicated that they did.  But if there really are serious plans to convert Banuelos into a temporary lefty reliever, then clearly something is still wrong with the organizational attitude when it comes to their young pitching.  Calling Manny up to Triple-A to let him test the waters, learn, continue to develop as a blue-chip starting prospect, and stay on his predetermined innings limit for this year is a good move.  Calling him up to Triple-A to turn him into a lefty version of '07 Joba is a horrible move, and a potentially devastating one to his future.  I certainly hope the latter is just a rumor and not the team's true intentions.

The Rich Getting Closer To Getting Richer

And I have an easy excuse to use Photoshops!

Earlier in the week, it was reported that The Jesus is "expected to join the Yankees' lineup in the very near future."  BOOM!!

And as if that news wasn't good enough, today marks the day that The Horse's rehab begins as he'll travel to Tampa and will start "baseball activities" tomorrow.  I have no clue if those activities involve hitting off a tee, running some light sprints in the outfield, or just working on getting the proper mix of Big League Chew and Skoal in your lip, and I don't care.  POW!!

Trade deadline, schmade deadline.  How many other teams are going to add the greatest player of his generation and one of the best young prospects in the sport this month?  Answer:  none.