Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vin Scully calling Clayton Kershaw's no-hitter was perfection

Los Angeles Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw lost his perfect game bid in the seventh inning, but went on to handle things all by himself the rest of the way, completing a 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in the process. But, perfection came to fruition with Vin Scully behind the microphone.

Scully in his own beautiful game story-telling ripped off these snippets along the way.

In reference to Hanley Ramirez's error - "It's the only blot on the escutcheon of Clayton Kershaw."

On speaking of no-hitter in middle of game - "Since we don't believe in superstition, our job is to give you information."

After recording last out in eighth inning - "After eight innings he has not allowed a hit. Breathes a big sigh of relief as he walks off the field. And he has three outs to go and amongst the large crowd, the BIIG heart of his wife Ellen beats a little faster."

After second out of the ninth inning - "And there is one out to go. One miserable, measly out."

Before and after the final pitch - "To try to put yourself in Kershaw's position, after all his is a professional, but your mouth has to be dry. Your throat has to be dry. O and 2. Got him! He's done it!"

After the game - "A big moment in a young life."

Here is Scully's call of each out (and the Ramirez error) from the game courtesy of MLB.com.



To end, here are some numbers behind the no-hitter:
  • This was Kershaw's first no-no
  • Scully has called 20 no-hitters
  • It was the second no-hitter of the season, with Kershaw's teammate Josh Beckett registering the first one.
  • Kershaw tossed just 107 pitches, 79 for strikes
  • He threw 6 pitches in the ninth inning
  • Kershaw's 15 strikeouts is a new career-high
  • The Dodgers have the most no-hitters of any MLB team with 22
  • 12 of the Dodgers' no-hitters have been tossed in Los Angeles and the other 10 were thrown in Brooklyn
No perfecto on the mound last night in L.A., but there was perfection as usual in the booth. Congrats to Clayton Kershaw and thank you Vin Scully.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Yankees’ approach to system rebuild makes sense

The New York Yankees have taken fire for several seasons about their farm system. While on the upswing thanks to some shrewd international picks and three first-round draft selections in 2013, the Yankees are still disparaged on the circuit. Is the criticism justified and how are they going about making things better?

Truth be told, the Yankees have had their fair share of players come up through the system in recent years. For every Jacoby Ellsbury, there is a Brett Gardner and for every CC Sabathia, there is a David Phelps (14th round in 2008) or a Chase Whitley (15th round pick in 2010). Maybe Whitley is a stretch, but you get the picture.

The Yankees moved from homegrown international free agent Mariano Rivera to homespun David Robertson in the closer role (17th round pick in 2006). Next in line there? Possibly Dellin Betances; drafted in the 8th round in 2006.

The Yankees spent loads of money on Brian McCann, but they have a talented duo behind him, with John Ryan Murphy (second round pick in 2009) currently excelling in the backup role, and Gary Sanchez (international signing in 2009) finding his way at Double-A Trenton. There is even more depth at catcher with fan-favorite Francisco Cervelli (amateur free agent signed in 2003) and Austin Romine (second round in 2007) who have seen significant time in the Bronx in recent seasons.

The point here is that even though the Yankees will always be a team that outspends just about everyone so long as the Steinbrenner family remains in control, they’ve had their share of talent come through even in seasons when it seemed that all they did was spend. Further, the Yankees have come to realize -- or they now remember -- that there is just as much potential in building a farm system that can churn out Major League talent, whether to grace the grass at Yankee Stadium or to use as an asset to go after a star they feel can make an immediate impact.

So while the Yankees continue to flex their monetary strength in the free agent market, they hit the amateur draft and will follow during the international signing period with a model of securing promising players closer to MLB-ready via the draft (at least in age and experience level) and younger players with significant upside by wielding the wallet in Latin America.

Looking for an immediate impact was something the Yankees focused on in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Their first selection, Jacob Lindgren, was selected with the 55th overall pick, but is labeled by many, including MLB.com’s Jim Callis here, to be a potential call up -- this season. The southpaw reliever could translate his college success into the pros, by doing something the Yankees need and value, converting outs against tough left-handed hitters.

The Yankees selected 32 college players (39 total selections) in this season’s draft. They took the approach of grabbing players who might make some noise quickly (or quicker than a high-schooler) in an effort to boost the readiness of their system to impact the big leagues. As it stands, any touted prospects the Yankees currently have in the wings are in the lower levels (Double-A and below). MLB.com has only two players listed among their top 20 Yankees prospect rankings currently in Triple-A -- Jose Ramirez (12) and Mark Montgomery (14).

The draft methodology complements the strategy they will reportedly employ in regard to the international signing period which begins July 2. The Yankees have been very active in pursuit of some of the best talent available outside those eligible for the First-Year Player Draft.

Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com claimed back in December and then updated his notions in February that the Yankees will overshoot the approximate $2 million limit and incur stiff penalties next season. McDaniel’s February update (this link is actually a follow-up article, the original link does not work) suggests the Yankees could spend more than $20 million on international free agents according to one of his sources.

McDaniel specifically names six players with verbal agreements he believed to be in place -- Dermis Garcia (3B, Dominican, $3 million), Nelson Gomez (3B, Dominican, $2.8 million), Juan De Leon (OF, Dominican, $2 million), Jonathan Amundaray (OF, Venezuela, $1.5 million), Chris Torres (SS, Dominican, $1 million) and Diego Castillo (SS, Venezuela, $900K).

Cementing the notion, New York Daily News reporters Andy Martino and Mark Feinsand stated the Yankees in fact have verbal agreements with Garcia (but they claim for $3.6 million), Gomez (same bonus as McDaniel stated) and Torres ($2.6 million, noting McDaniel’s number of $1 million).

McDaniel speculated that the Yankees are going for broke this season because they (and others) feel that the rules will significantly change and this could be their last chance to circumvent the international system with cash. The Yankees should absolutely do whatever they can to increase the chances the signings they make with international players pan out and if that means spending more than others, so be it.

The overall draft and international signing attack makes extreme sense to me. It allows the Yankees to infuse the system from the top to the bottom all at once. The Yankees are trying to do everything in their power and within the rules established to quickly and effectively replenish their farm system.

This season could go down as the season the Yankees not only spent significantly on the free agent market to sustain the next few seasons, but also boosted and revived a stale farm system using a strategy of immediacy via the draft and financially securing youth with upside on the international front to bring them through the remainder of the decade.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New York Yankees: Kendrys Morales fits regardless of Mark Teixeira’s health

A team can never have enough offense and right now the New York Yankees are practically working without one. As the MLB First-Year Player Draft is set to begin Thursday, a competent bat becomes available without draft pick compensation attached; Kendrys Morales.

Morales, a switch-hitting first baseman and designated hitter with power, was left to wait after the Seattle Mariners gave him a qualifying offer and not a single team bit due to the loss of a draft pick accompanying his signing. He has been linked to several teams including the Yankees. Morales (.277/.336/.449 with 23 HR in 2013) will be looking to sign for the pro-rated $14 million contract he could have accepted from Seattle during the offseason.

The fit for the Yankees seems obvious if Mark Teixeira was to suffer a long-term disabled list stint due to his surgically repaired right wrist which has flared up in recent weeks. But, with Teixeira back in the lineup Tuesday and launching his 10th home run of the season, is there a spot for Morales?

Morales will want to sign with a team who will play him every day. He has less than two-thirds of the season to showcase his worth once he hits free agency again this offseason. He will not want to be a part of a platoon or used as a random fill-in. Can the Yankees give Morales enough at-bats to satisfy his desires? I say yes.

In my view Morales could receive plenty of at-bats between resting Teixeira at first and then garnering the rest as the DH. Plus, there will always be the potential for Teixeira to suffer another setback and the crew that has tried to hold down first base for the Yankees has been underwhelming.

What about the current DH shuffle? Don’t the Yankees need to rest certain players and find at-bats for others? Yes, they do, but the rest does not have to come at the expense of using several different hitters in the DH capacity. In fact, it can be argued that eliminating the shuffle would probably help the team in the long run.

Here’s how to eliminate the DH shuffle in the Bronx if Morales is brought aboard.

While Carlos Beltran, another switch-hitter, is due back at the end of this week after three-plus weeks on the disabled list due to a bone spur in his right elbow, it’s a certainty he’ll need his days off along the way. Full days of rest would be more beneficial at this stage for an aging and oft-injured player; one every seven days seems reasonable enough.

Jacoby Ellsbury should be playing every single day. Having him sit because he’s had injury problems in the past makes no sense. He’s not recuperating from any maladies, so he should be out on the field every day. It makes the defense better and keeps him in a rhythm at the plate. If the Yankees insist on resting him say every 10 games, give him the entire day off.

If Ellsbury sits, Brett Gardner moves to center and Ichiro Suzuki can play left. That provides Suzuki with at-bats by spelling either Beltran or Ellsbury. Ichiro is thriving in a limited role and I don’t think the Yankees should change their approach with him.

As for Alfonso Soriano, he has been dreadful at the plate (.226/.253/.392) so taking plate appearances from him at this point would be a welcome change of pace. I’d go so far as to say he could be kicked to the curb with no harm done to the Yankees. If someone wants Soriano, the Yankees should be all ears.

What about getting Derek Jeter half-days?

Ditch the idea. While I love Jeter and everything he has meant to this organization, he’s not providing much in the way of offense this season (.260/.322/.311). He’ll be better served by having complete days off from here on out. It doesn’t even matter when Jeter’s days are factored in as he’s generated a .632 OPS against lefties and .634 OPS against righties; though hard-throwing right-handers dispose of Jeter easily these days.

Finally, the Yankees have been giving Brian McCann some days as DH as well and this makes some sense. While he’s been in a season-long slump, there should come a time when he snaps out of it and the more appearances he receives at the plate the better. When Teixeira rests, preferably when a righty is on the mound as Teixeira’s wrist is more of an issue as a left-handed batter, Morales can play first and McCann, a lefty hitter can DH. McCann is about the only other player I would want to be receiving at-bats as DH if Teixeira is healthy.

And that’s key here; Teixeira’s health. All of this is moot if Teixeira wakes up Wednesday and his wrist is inflamed or causing discomfort. Then the Yankees have to make a strong push for Morales in my opinion.

But, the Yankees should not take a wait and see approach based on Teixeira's availability where it concerns signing Morales. There is too much competition for Morales' services to sit back and the Yankees have room for him.

In the end, Morales could be a significant boost to the offense and ridding the DH shuffle might provide some stability to the lineup and still offer rest days for the veterans.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.