Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Burnett’s Hip Turn, Jeter Underrated Again, Granderson’s D, Dickey in the Bullpen, Nick Evans, Josh Stinson, Grantland Commercial

Burnett’s Hip Turn, Jeter Underrated Again, Granderson’s D, Dickey in the Bullpen, Nick Evans, Josh Stinson, Grantland Commercial



By Mike Silva ~ September 3rd, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

I was talking with NYBD contributor Joe Delgrippo yesterday. We discussed A.J. Burnett and my thoughts about how he is throwing less fastballs than ever before. One of the things Delgrippo saw was Burnett not using the same pronounced hip turn. It’s something the Yankees have been working on correcting since spring training, but if you watch video of Burnett’s delivery it wasn’t as pronounced against Boston. Delgrippo wrote about this in the offseason :

Burnett uses a big hip turn where he shows the number of his uniform and his back pocket to the hitter. No need for this as it does two things. This provides no benefit to velocity and actually pulls Burnett away from the forward momentum he should be delivering directly to the plate.

What this big backwards hip turn does is reduce his velocity by creating excess movement during the delivery. Velocity has nothing to do with the strength of your arm, but the power of your core including a powerful hip turn after the front foot lands.

The big hip turn will also usually cause the lead leg to swing out and straighten when the lead leg should remain in a bent position. It is not good when the front leg acts like a swinging gate. As I said earlier, a big turn of the hips is good after the front leg lands, not before it.

A swinging gate front leg often causes the landing foot to plant in different spots, away from the mid-line to home plate, causing the aforementioned reduced velocity and any concept of control of his pitches

Chad Jennings of the Journal News described the mechanical adjustments as” where his hands start — both in the windup and out of the stretch — and there’s less of a turn in his delivery.” That turn is exactly what Delgrippo was talking about.

After last night’s 7 inning/2 run outing, Ivan Nova clearly deserves to be in the postseason rotation. You have Sabathia, Garcia, Colon, and Nova. That leaves Burnett in the bullpen, or on the sidelines.

I would say put Burnett in the bullpen over someone like Luis Ayala, but since A.J. is a creature of habit that kind of scenario may take time getting adjusted to.

The best you can hope for is a solid September that will lead to more positive and consistent results in 2012. Similar to Oliver Perez, Burnett has shown a history of inconsistency. He hasn’t fallen off the cliff like Perez, but his history shows that any mechanical changes will be short lived. Those mechanical changes won’t help the concentration issues that plague him throughout a ballgame as well.

Good job by Delgrippo back in the offseason with that analysis.

***

Derek Jeter has a big August and now we are back to calling him “underrated.” Narratives are what sports writing is about, but there is such a thing as overkill. Throughout Jeter’s career the media has been guilty of that.

Terrence Moore is the latest one guilty of such narratives over at MLB.com

All of a sudden, the talk about the greatness of Derek Jeter has intensified, and this is misguided.

He’s actually greater than that.

It’s a bunch of little-big things with Jeter. Unlike New York Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez, for instance, Jeter isn’t spectacular at fielding, throwing, hitting, slugging or just existing away from the ballpark, but he is good at everything.

Craig Calcaterra chimes in at NBC’s Hardball Talk by saying how good Jeter is in October, he’s the consummate professional, hasn’t been in a scandal, and is friendly with the media. The last one made me chuckle. Anyone who has been around Jeter in a media setting, or simply watched him nightly on YES, knows that he is short, sometimes curt, and disinterested in media interaction. His persona during interviews gives the vibe that “I am doing this because I have too, and don’t want to be criticized about it.” To me, that is insincere and phony; nothing to be celebrated.

Anyone who watched “Jeter 3K” on HBO saw how scripted that program was. I was waiting for his cook to bring out milk and cookies before bedtime in the scene where he had dinner with his buddies. The best quote in that feature was Jeter’s thoughts on responding to media criticism “I understand it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or accept it.” That quote tells you the disdain he has for any analysis of his game outside of the platitudes that have been bestowed upon him since his first game in 1996.

No other athlete in this town has received as good press as Derek Jeter. Not Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, heck even Don Mattingly was on the cover of the paper threatening to go to the Mets in 1990, and arguing with George over his hair growth in the early nineties.

Look, Jeter is a great Hall of Fame player, but he can’t carry the team like legends in other sports. To put him in the class of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, or Joe Montana would be to overrate him. The nature of baseball probably prevents most players to be compared to the greats of the other three major sports. Maybe a pitcher is the closest in terms of dominating a game. Baseball is a team game, and if Jeter started his career in Boston, he probably would have suffered through the curse until 2004. If he was in Milwaukee, Kansas City, or Pittsburgh he would be a modern day Robin Yount. He also would probably not have any World Series rings.

When the Yankees had great pitching they won 4 World Series titles in 5 years. When they didn’t, they went eight years, most times not getting out of the first round of the playoffs. They signed Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia before the 2009 season and they won a title again.

This is not to diminish Jeter’s accomplishments, but just to slowdown the narratives that I thought were dead and buried after his 3,000th hit. He is a very good, ultra consistent player that was fortunate enough to play in New York at a time where the Yankees were on a dominant cycle. Put Don Mattingly’s career from 1996-2011 and I suspect we are writing about him in the same way; except Donnie Baseball was a better all around player than Jeter, he just didn’t stay healthy.

Maybe he is underappreciated in the fact that he’s played at a high level for such a long period of time; that certainly should be celebrated, but that doesn’t make him underrated.

Want to see an unbiased narrative about Jeter from someone who spent a night covering him? Read my article from July entitled “My Night With Derek Jeter.”

***

I know UZR doesn’t support it, but I really don’t think Curtis Granderson is a terrible centerfielder. That is not the feedback a scout gave Mark Simon of ESPN NY:

“The best asset he possesses is his well above-average speed, which enables him to correct initial mistakes with reads and routes, and his ability to go all out to make a play. He does not react well off the bat, almost as if he has a depth perception problem, which really shows up on hard line drives at him, which is a difficult play for most, and hard to practice. Having Gardner in left, he will cheat his positioning, yet he still gets burned, as he will play too shallow or too deep. There seems to be no happy medium.”

I still think Granderson should be given serious consideration for the MVP award. His defense isn’t terrible, and he plays a premium position in centerfield. Maybe it isn’t Gold Glove caliber this season, but not bad enough to take away from what he’s accomplished.

I guess the question going forward is would the Yankees consider putting Granderson in left-field and Brett Gardner in center? The metrics and the eyes both agree that Gardner is the better outfielder. He may be the best outfielder in all of baseball. Although, reading that scouts report makes me wonder if Granderson would need some adjustment to the corners. You don’t need to cover as much ground in left or right, but there is a period of adjustment as how the ball comes off the bat and playing the caroms off the stands.

***

R.A. Dickey pitched on 3-days rest yesterday. He wasn’t as sharp as prior starts, but he got the job done with 6 innings of 3-run ball. Dickey has said he could pitch on 3-days rest consistently, if necessary. Would it be smart to put Dickey in the bullpen on his third day and have him available to pitch in relief? Terry Collins actually did this back in April in Atlanta when the Mets were on a 7-game losing streak. Dickey was brought in the seventh, and pitched a scoreless inning in a Mets 3-2 victory.

The value of a knuckleball pitcher is he can be the proverbial pitching machine. Dickey does have some traditional parts to his repertoire, but by and large he should be able to pitch out of the bullpen in-between starts.

Maybe he gives them an inning or two, if necessary. It’s a great tool to have in a day and age where bullpen arms are difficult to find. It also would allow you to keep an extra hitter on the roster since Dickey would be serving a duel role as starter/reliever.

***

The one thing I have learned about the Mets this season is they have some interesting component parts in the organization. Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole, Dan Murphy, and Pedro Beato should have a role on the 2012 team. Lucas Duda is emerging into an everyday player with his performance. That brings me to Nick Evans, who I still can’t quote figure out whether he has a place in the organization.

Evans went from platooning in the outfield in 2008 to persona non-grata the last three seasons. He was sent down and cleared waivers a couple of times this year. Every time he’s had a chance to showcase himself, he hasn’t performed well and was sent down. That is going to change as Terry Collins will make Evans the everyday first basman the rest of the season. He’s responded this season, especially of late, and is hitting .264 with 2 HRs and 11 RBI. He can play first, third, left, and right.

I don’t think he is an everyday player, but he could be a useful right-handed bat off the bench. This is probably his last opportunity to prove he belongs in the big leagues; at least with the Mets.

***

We may be adding Josh Stinson to that component player list by the end of the season. I saw Stinson a bit in Binghamton the last couple of years, and most believed he could be a useful bullpen piece for the big league club. Early innings type of guy; what D.J. Carrasco was supposed to be.

Michael Diaz breaks down Stinson very well at the Mets Minor League Blog

Stinson was easily the best bullpen arm I saw on my trip. He worked his fastball from 94-96mph with life down in the zone. He located the fastball well to both sides of the plate. Stinson used his 6’4” frame to create a good downhill plane to the plate. His delivery is clean and he repeats his mechanics consistently.

Stinson also used his slider effectively at 88-90 mph. His slider has good tilt and bite. Stinson located his slider to both sides of the plate, and is a solid swing and miss offering.

Stinson does have a history of control problems, but his walk rate was 3 per nine after a move to the bullpen. If he can keep it between 2-3 per nine he should be ok.

Bullpen arms are expensive- look how Carrasco received a two-year deal- so having as many effective league minimum guys coming out of the bullpen will certainly help Sandy Alderson build a competitive roster on a very tight budget.

***

Any blog or media site today has a personality. Whether it’s the lead writer (like me), commentators, or contributors, there is a certain personality that each site takes. I think this commercial promoting ESPN’s Grantland (which I enjoy) describes just about any community – including this one- and group of sports fans.

Watch the commercial and see if you agree with her analysis. This basically describes any of the popular sites in the Mets and Yankees community.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Burnett’s Hip Turn, Jeter Underrated Again, Granderson’s D, Dickey in the Bullpen, Nick Evans, Josh Stinson, Grantland Commercial

  1. Russ Cress

    I think the reason for Granderson’s odd defensive metrics rating is actually quite simple, he’s playing next to the best defensive LF in the fame.

    When Gardner, who has CF speed, gets to as many balls in the gap as he does, he’s going to take outs away from Granderson, and thus Grandy’s “range factor” suffers. He just doesn’t need to run down balls that other centerfielders do.

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