Daily Archives: September 24, 2012
Lineup vs. Twins:
Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Raul Ibanez RF
Russell Martin C
Eric Chavez 3B
Andy Pettitte LHP
“Change” was the theme of 2012 for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Aside from the usual roster changes a minor league club goes through, the AAA affiliate to the Bronx Bombers underwent a change of scenery, their president/general manager as well as ownership, and are going to announce a new name for the club which was chosen by the fans. For the team without a home in a state of flux, the results were not at all disappointing. They shrugged off the obstacles of traveling constantly, losing their two top hitters and watching their pitching get decimated by promotions, failures and injuries.
For starters, Kristen Rose, team president of the SWB Yankees resigned in April, accepting a job with Mandalay Baseball Properties to be closer to family. Mandalay is part of the Yankee conglomerate, so it was somewhat of a lateral move for Kristen. As the season got rolling the team searched for a new leader and in July they named Rob Crain as the new president/general manager. Crain is an import from the Omaha Storm Chasers, an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals where he served as the assistant GM for four years. Crain however, grew up in enemy territory; “As a kid growing up 20 minutes away from Fenway Park, never in my wildest dreams did I think i’d thank the New York Yankees for anything”. Jeremy Ruby, former GM, will be joining Crain as part of the new leadership team. He’d been itching to get back with the club, and with a rebuilt stadium in the works this was the perfect time. The two are focused on engaging the community and bringing the fans back to the park.
Also announced this April, the sale of the SWB Yankees was made official. Negotiations had gone on for nearly two years, as the Lackawana County Multipurpose Stadium Authority finally signed off on a $14.6M sale to SWB Yankees LLC. A little strange seeing as how they will no longer be the “Yankees” but no less official. SWB LLC is a division of mandalay Baseball Properties which is a part of the Steinbrenner family holdings. The proceeds of the sale will be put towards the $43.3M renovation of PNC park, which was long overdue and should breathe some new life into the AAA club.
This brings us to the ballpark. The Yankees spent the entire 144 game season on the road, playing many of their “home” games in Rochester. They attempted to call Riverfront Stadium in Newark their temporary home, but the plan was corrupted by the Mets, who share territorial rights to the metropolitan area. Thanks for nothing guys, enjoy wallowing in mediocrity. The 12 month construction plan is a bit tight, but they are moving quickly and so far are on schedule for opening day. “The fans, when they walk in the door, are going to be inundated with the sights, the sounds, the smells, the entire fan experience” Crain said. “It’s going to be very, very minor league and when I say that, it’s going to be all about the fans and all about what they want”. The Yankees will pay $750,000 annually over the 30 year lease, which could extend to 50 years. Ownership has also agreed to contribute to maintanance and ballpark repairs. The official MiL site of the SWB Yankees has a link that directs to a live webcam to catch a peek of the construction; check it out if you get a chance.
Performance wise, the Yankees held their own despite the roster being picked apart by trades, promotions and poor performance. On the hitting side the Yankees released Jorge Vasquez, the AAA version of Adam Dunn who went back to the Mexican League. They lost another bat due to “The Trade”, as the chosen one Jesus Montero was shipped off to Seattle along with starter Hector Noesi. Austin Romine was also a no-show, spending the majority of the season with an ailing back. Like the big club, SWB had some side pieces step up and contribute; veterans Jack Cust and Russell Branyan did their share, while Chris Dickerson and Steve Pearce (both now rocking the pinstripes) filled out the run producers. Dickerson ended the year with a .316/.417/.515/.932 slash line, along with 24 doubles, 4 triples, 7 HR’s and 17 SB’s. Not be left unnoticed, Ronnier Mustelier hit his way through the system, parking himself in Scranton and opening the eyes of the higher ups in the organization. He put up a .303/.359/.455.815 line with 21 doubles, a triple, 10 HR’s, and 7 SB in SWB. Ronnier could make a play for a utility role in the Bronx next year so keep an eye out for him. Corban Joseph has also come along this year showing some excellent patience at the plate. He pushed his way to Scranton half way through the season and hit .266/.366/.474/.840 with 13 bombs and 25 doubles win AAA. His 53/57 BB/K ratio was the best on the team and is a great sign for a big league hopeful. As a team they finished off the year with a .260/.344/.403 slash line which led the league in OBP, and coincidentally led in walks with 598. They hit 128 home runs and stole a fair amount of bases, 101, which was good for fourth in the IL.
The pitching was also picked apart; David Phelps made his impression in spring training and broke camp with the big club. Hector Noesi was shipped off to Seattle in an attempt to balance the trade after Jose Campos was tossed into the mix and DJ Mitchell later joined Hector as he was traded for some guy named Ichiro!. Dellin Betances continued to fall after his 2010 breakout and now has completely forgotten how to throw strikes. He’s going to the AFL later this year, and hopefully it’s to learn to pitch one inning at a time out of the bullpen. His concentration over several innings is said to be lacking, so maybe he can excell out of the pen. If he can’t, it will be all but goodbye Dellin. Adam Warren ended up as the last of the young guns in the rotation. He had a rocky start, and an ugly debut with the parent club but finished the season at 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He struck out 107 batters and walked 46. Veterans Ramon Ortiz and John Maine filled out the roster. Chase Whitley pitched well out of the pen, appearing in 41 games putting up a 3.25 ERA over 80.1 innings with a 1.07 WHIP, striking out 66 and walking 25. As a team, the Yankees ended up with a 3.86 ERA and 1052 strikeouts, both good for sixth in the International League. They were in the middle of the pack in WHIP and HR’s allowed posting a 1.35 team mark and giving up 112 long balls, and were near the bottom in walks, allowing 486 free passes.
The big story was Manny Banuelos, ranked the second best lefty prospect in baseball and the youngest player in AAA, who had a rough go of it this season. As the team moved north he suffered a pulled muscle that manager Dave Miley attributed to the horrid weather they faced; at one point he was noted as sitting in the stands shivering and miserable. He’s going to have to get used to the weather and possibly take the precautions to be more prepared/stretched out before he throws. After coming back from the lat injury Manny found his command and threw 14.2 innings without issuing a walk while striking out 15. Miley noted that Manny had been nibbling the year before and was working on a fourth pitch (a slider/cutter) while seeing a slight uptick in velocity, so the lack of command was neither surprising nor alarming. His next start would be his last, as he went on the DL with elbow inflammation. While “change” was the theme of the SWB Yankees, “injury” was the theme of the entire organization in 2012. Let’s hope next year plays out a bit differently eh?
The Yankees ended up with a record of 84-60, good enough to take the North Division and head to the playoffs. Manager Dave Miley did an outstanding job holding the club together, as they traveled over 16,000 miles this season; the nomadic tribe took it in stride and according to various twitter accounts, morale was not an issue. While they fell to the Pawtucket red Sox in the first round of playoffs, the season was still a success. I’ll be looking forward to the new digs and some new faces in 2013. Stay tuned this winter as we here at YFU bring you more coverage on the SWB Yankees and the rest of the MiL affiliate clubs.
This week it’s all about the playoff races and Miguel Cabrera on the verge of accomplishing something that hasn’t been done since 1967.
Miggy, Miggy, Miggy
Being a baseball fan these days is tough. Poor umpiring, increased interleague games looming, a ridiculous addition of a second wildcard team(when many of us didn’t even like the addition of the first wildcard), positive tests for PED’s, etc. have made it challenging for fans to partake in the pure joy that baseball used to offer in its glory days.
Any baseball fan under the age of 45 wasn’t even born the last time a player won baseball’s Triple Crown. Any baseball fan between 45 and 55 probably has a hard time remembering when Carl Yastremski won the Triple Crown in the 1967 MLB season. Nine days from now, around 11:10 PM EDT, the anointing of the first Triple Crown winner of my lifetime will take place in Kansas City.
Miguel Cabrera has an 8 point lead in the batting title race in the American League. He also has a 10 RBI lead over Josh Hamilton in the RBI title race, and is currently tied with Hamilton for the home run title race.
With Josh Hamilton being injured and his return unsure, it appears that Miguel Cabrera has done it, he’s going to end the drought. Bolstering Cabrera’s chances of winning the Triple Crown is the fact that he will be facing 10 games worth of Kansas City and Minnesota pitching. The Royals and Twins are currently 10th and 13th in the AL in team ERA.
While the playoff races are gathering almost all of the hype, the biggest story of the year is Cabrera. In the last 45 years some pretty incredible players have graced the game with their presence. None of those players accomplished what Cabrera is about to do.
Hopefully, MLB and the media who are hyping the playoff races nonstop, will give this accomplishment its proper coverage.
Make sure you mark 8:10 PM EDT on October 3rd on your calendars. At that time, you can turn on your television and watch the last game of Cabrera’s incredible season and say that you witnessed the coronation of the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. Whether or not you like Cabrera, this is an event that no baseball fan should miss. Things you wait a lifetime for are the things that should be most cherished.
If The Playoffs Began Today
In the AL:
The Orioles would host the A’s in a one game playoff in Baltimore to determine who would host the Rangers in the first two games of a best-of-five series.
The White Sox would host the Yankees in the first two games of a best-of-five series.
In the NL:
The Braves would host the Cardinals in a one game playoff in Atlanta to determine who would host the Nationals in the first two games of a best-of-five series.
The Giants would host the Reds in the first two games of a best-of-five series.
The NL races are down to seedings and who will get the last wildcard.
The Giants have closed to within 3 1/2 games of the Nats and 3 games of the Reds for the first two seeds. Those three teams can still wind up in any order for the top three seeds.
The Braves are as good as home free with a magic number of 1 to make the playoffs.
The Cards have a two and a half game lead over the Brewers and a three game lead over the Dodgers for the second wildcard position but the Cardinals are far from home as they clearly possess the hardest remaining schedule.
The Cardinals have three road games against the Astros before returning home for a six game home stand against the Nationals and Reds. With the Reds and Nats battling for the 1 seed, it is very unlikely that either will lay down for the Cards. It is conceivable that the Cards tough road home could allow the Brewers and/or Dodgers to run them down if they can play 7-3 and 7-2 baseball respectively as they end their seasons.
The AL races for the East and Central are as up in the air as they were last week at this time.
The White Sox are still clinging to a one game lead in the Central despite losing their last five games. The White Sox have a seven game home stand starting today that consists of three games with the Indians and four games with Tampa Bay before heading to Cleveland to play the Indians again in their final three games.
The Tigers play their final four home games starting today against Kansas City. The Tigers then head to Minnesota to play three games and then to Kansas City to play three games.
The Yankees have a one game lead over the Orioles in the East. The Yankees head to Minnesota to play three games that will be followed by four games in Toronto before heading home to finish the season with three games against the Red Sox.
The Orioles play four games against Toronto that start today with a doubleheader. The Orioles then host the Red Sox for three games before ending their season in Tampa with three games against the Rays. The series with the Rays becomes an obstacle for the Orioles if the Rays can close their gap with the Orioles to three games or less before that series begins. If the Rays can do that, they will control their destiny in that last series against the O’s at home.
The A’s rough schedule has gotten to them as of late, but they still hold the second wildcard slot by two and a half games over the Angels and three and a half games over the Rays. The A’s start a four game series with the Rangers tonight before heading home to finish the season with three games with Seattle and three with Texas. The last series with Texas becomes easier if Texas already has the one seed wrapped up and rests their starters. That is unlikely, as the Yankees have closed to within two games of Texas and hold the tiebreaker on Texas for the one seed after taking the regular season series over Texas four games to three games.
The Angels have been playing well but their schedule will make it very hard to close enough ground to garner a spot in the postseason. The Angels have three games with the Mariners and then head to Texas to play the Rangers in a three game set before finishing their season in Seattle with three more games with the Mariners. The Angels will face King Felix in both series with Seattle.