The sweet Snell of success

At one point in the run-up to the Old Timer’ Day festivities, I was standing on the third base line near a bunch of Yankees players that included Jesse Barfield, Oscar Gamble, and Ken Griffey, Sr. Behind me, some guy in the stands was shouting, “Hit one, Cecil!” He yelled that over and over again. I couldn’t figure out if he (A) thought that Cecil Fielder had come back to Yankee Stadium for Old Timers’ Day–he hadn’t, and though some of the aforementioned Yankees weigh a few stone more than in their glory days, none looked anything like Big Daddy and none were wearing his number; (B) assumed that because the Detroit Tigers were in town, Fielder had somehow come along with his old organization (nope); (C) that he was somehow making fun of my weight (seems like an esoteric way of going about it); (D) was having an acid flashback to 1997; or (E) had somehow gotten hold of a beer vendor at 10 AM. A little later, Mike Mussina and David Cone were standing on exactly the same spot, and I kept expecting the guy to yell, “Throw one, Jack Morris!” or “Strike ’em out, Willie Hernandez!” or “Run for another term, Jim Bunning!”

snell_250.jpgSNELL MAIL
Over the weekend, Baseball Prospectus’s John Perrotto reported that the Yankees have interest in Ian Dante Snell, the Pirates’ punching bag who was recently demoted to Indianapolis. This seems a bit odd at first, given that since posting a 3.76 ERA in 2007, Snell’s one truly solid year, his walk rate has exploded and his strikeout rate dropped, a big reason why he’s put up a 5.40 ERA in 245 innings going back to last year. On further examination, acquiring Snell starts to make a little more sense. First, if you’re down to trying out Sergio Mitre in your starting rotation, you have to show interest in everybody. Second, at 27 years old, Snell isn’t too old to get back on track, assuming there’s nothing seriously wrong with his arm. There’s also a psychological aspect to consider: six years in Pirates drag might be enough to ruin anyone’s approach. Finally, Snell has looked great in four starts at Triple-A Indianapolis. He’s allowed just one earned run in 26.1 innings, and in his first start after going down he struck out 17 Toledo hitters in seven innings. The strikeout numbers since then haven’t been nearly so dramatic, but clearly there’s something alive in Snell waiting to be woken up.

Since the end of April:
Johnny Damon:    .273/.358/.517
Brett Gardner:        .303/.391/.455
Melky Cabrera:    .271/.328/.396
Nick Swisher:        .206/.336/.363

As you know, I’ve been a supporter of Nick Swisher’s from the moment he was acquired, but what he’s doing right now is not adequate. The average right fielder is batting .266/.341/.439. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if too many players of that quality are going to be made available by the trading deadline. One wonders if Brian Cashman has shown any interest in Josh Willingham of the Nationals.


Orioles 9-11 5.2 5.3 .263 .329 .404 41 9 4 1.2 3.4 6.0
Yankees 15-5 5.9 4.5 .292 .379 .481 24 7 8 1.1 3.5 7.1

Extraordinary that the Yankees are 15-2 when not playing at Anaheim… As I observed the last time the Yanks and Orioles tilted, there are a few reasons why the latter make more interesting viewing than they have in recent years, beginning with their young outfield of Nolan Remold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis. None is older than 25, all are playing reasonably well (though not as well as they had been early in the season), and presumably will maintain their value long enough that if management is able to bang the rest of the roster into shape, they might be around to contribute to a competitive team. The Orioles also have some new faces on the pitching side, and even if they aren’t all world beaters, at least they’re not inflicting more laborious Daniel Cabrera and Adam Eaton starts on the world.

All three of the starters the Yankees face this week are under 30. On Monday night, the Yankees face the most interesting member of the group in David Hernandez, a 24-year-old who first came up at the end of May. A fastball/slider/changeup guy, Hernandez throws in the low 90s. In the Minors, he got a ton of strikeouts, 10.4 per nine innings since signing in 2005, but his Major League rate has been less than half that. He’s also still working on the whole control thing, and the Yankees will stress him by taking pitches if they’re smart. Hernandez had a quality start in each of his last two appearances. The opponents were the Angels and the Mariners, teams that don’t work counts.

Tuesday’s starter is Rich Hill, who once looked like he would be something special for the Cubs but has since fallen on hard times, which is kind of a redundant thing to say given that he pitches for Baltimore. He’s become spectacularly wild, and has made just three quality starts this year. His most recent start was among the three, a six inning, two-run outing against the Blue Jays on July 11. He walked just one. Finally, Wednesday’s starter is rookie Jason Berken. Berken has made one quality start this year. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it came in his second big league start. Since then, he’s been routinely pummeled, and has gotten out of the fifth inning just once. In eight June-July starts, opposing batters are hitting .325/.388/.503.

What do all three of these pitchers have in common? The Yankees have never seen them before.


  1. yankeespursuit27

    i dont mind the yanks getting “scrap” parts to fill in the back end of the rotation. but theres a fine line between a 4th or 5th starter with a 5.70 era compare to another 4 or 5 starter that can go deep into game such as the lefty washburn or a paul bryd type of pitcher. I do not feel the need for roy halladay, i dont, i like our farm, we dont need to drain six players just for one pitcher who is 31, compared to the young promising prospects like montero and austin jackson. cashman has finally learned his lesson. lets see what mitre can do and other “scrap heap” pitchers can do. either way when we reach the playoffs, the usually routine is to bring the top 3 starters to pitch in a series. and i can see wang coming back in september to be a solid 6 innings guy. so say what you want, but trading halladay for fine young talent in absurd.


    Snell is an intriguing guy that if you can get him for a low sum, go for it . He was one of the hardest thrower in 2006 amoung full time starters.

    As for Nick Swisher, I wouldn’t worry too much Steve (nor Melky Cabrera) both are really streaky guys, in Swisher’s 2 good years in Oakland he did basically the same thing, he was RED DEVIL hot in April / May, and then was ICE COLD in June / July / August. before turning back to SUPER HOT mode in September in 06, in 07 he was a bit more consistent. but he was still Red devil hot in April and May, and ice cold in June, just that his July – September were more steady around his normal level.

    As you’ve said yourself. your never as bad as you look when your cold. both Swisher and Cabrera are cold right now. and both have at least shown some capacity of going hot again before .(see Cabrera’s 07 July / August)

  3. jeff1112

    Not that you want to rush Austin Jackson, he needs to develop more power and reduce his strikeouts but would he be a better internal option than Swisher? The simple solution without really doing anything would be to give Melky or Hinske more time in RF and have Gardner play CF with Damon in LF. It might be productive to give Swisher a little time off.

  4. jeff1112

    Steve, Josh Willingham would be a great acquisition by Cashman considering he is hitting .284/.407/.539 this year. What would it take to get him? I think I read the Phillies have interest in him, but if they plan on getting Halliday I can’t see them making many more moves. Willingham seems to be the only choice out there right now.

    Cashman needs to do something that will strengthen this team to put them on top of the Red Sox. Either get Willingham or acquire a 4th or 5th starter to replace Wang.

    Don’t laugh, but the Yankees could consider trading for Carl Pavano. He may have an ERA over 5 but he isn’t walking many batters and he is 8-7 which I guess isn’t that bad considering how the Indians have played.

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