Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baseball Brains Smitten With Sittin'

For a huge guy that really needs to be in top shape by early April, new Yankee hurler Michael Pineda sure is doing a lot of "sitting" down in Tampa.

It appears the new cool baseball jargon involves fireballing pitchers "sitting" at a particular speed.

Think of sitting like cruise control for pitchers--a fast, but not dangerous, speed they are comfortable at.

And the new lingo, which seems to be a bit of scout-speak that crept into the front office and the press box, seems to be used primarily to describe Pineda, whom the Yankees got from the Mariners in the Jesus Montero trade, and who has been attracting a lot of attention this spring for not throwing hard enough in March--and not sitting the way he used to sit.

Writes YankeeAnalysts.com March 22:
For better or worse, much has been made about Michael Pineda’s velocity so far in Spring Training. Last year, the young righty burst onto the scene as a fireballer, sitting in the mid-90′s and blowing guys away with that.

And, later, in the same darn paragraph:

We’ve seen velocity drops from Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the past, so we’ve got reason to be wary. But, Pineda was apparently sitting at 93 during Tuesday night’s game and was solid outside of a rocky, 38 pitch first pitch inning.

And, finally, toward the end of the same post:

One thing to remember, too, Pineda may not be gunning it up to 95 every time he throws number 1, but it’s not like he’s sitting 84-86 and struggling to touch 90.

In face, YankeeAnalysts.com seems particularly smitten with sitting. Back in December, it wrote of Hector Noesi:

Reports of his performance this offseason in the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano should perhaps make Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett start to watch their backs. According to tweets from David of Yankee Source, recent reports had Noesi sitting consistently 93-95 with his fastball as a starter in the DR.

YA is not alone. Here's what Baseball America said of prospect Carson Baranik back in February 2011:

"He's sitting 91-93. He's not staying 95, but he's been there," a National League area scout said.

The Cleveland Indians blog Diatribe used the term to describe Trey Hurley earlier this week:

Trey Haley was lighting up the radar gun in his two innings of work Saturday in the intersquad games. His fastball was sitting consistently between 94-97.

The splendid Yankee blog River Avenue Blues caught onto the phrase early. The site mentions Baseball America saying how then prospect Joba Chamberlain was sitting in the mid 90s way back in the mid 2000s:

During his 2006 appearance in the Hawaiian leagues, Joba was, according to Baseball America’s 2007 prospect list, sitting at 94-97 with his fastball.

Sadly, Joba is doing a lot of sitting now, after wrecking his ankle in a trampoline accident over the weekend.

The phrase is now common enough to work in the past tense as well. Yankees GM Brian Cashman acknowledged the mystery surrounding Pineda's velocity, or lack thereof, in the NY Times yesterday:

“I can understand the questions considering the fact he sat at 94 last year and was as high as 98,” Cashman told the paper. “So I think it’s a fair question."

Friday, March 9, 2012

David Wells is Svelte...Get the 'Yoke'?

Modern ballplayers are ripped. They are stacked. They are cut.

However you choose to term it, baseball players lift a lot of weights and generally turn up for camp in February in good shape.

In other words, they are "yoked," according to David Wells, a guy who most definitely was not yoked during his career.

Wells' description came in a New York Times story about the Yankees' outsize rotation--large not just in salary, but in physical stature.

Reports the Times:

"They’re ginormous,” marveled the beefy Wells, now an instructor at Yankees camp. “I’ve never seen a rotation that big, and that includes me. I mean, I wasn’t yoked like most of these guys; I was just fat. But with that size, it can be intimidating.”       

The story notes that players' listed weights can sometimes be off a bit. Wells himself, pitching in at Yankee camp these days, can confirm that.

Wells, who is still almost comically listed as 6-3, 187, said the most weight he ever carried to the mound was 278 pounds — almost none of it muscle.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Further Proof That A-Rod is 'Nuts'

There was a funny little exchange between A-Rod and the beat reporters Sunday in Tampa.

Alex had a dreamy start to spring training, taking none other than Doc Halladay deep on the first pitch he saw in 2012. (Last pitch he saw in 2011 was missed, thus ending the Yankees' season.)

A-Rod was asked Sunday if he believed in omens.

"In almonds?" he shot back, incredulously, as reported in the NY Times. He'd thought he'd heard everything from the press corps.

"Omens," he was told.

"Like Gregg Allmann, and Duane Allmann, and the month-long residency at the Beacon every March? Ramblin' Man and all that?" he said.

OK, A-Rod did not say the above. He said this:

"You mean like a foreshadowing?"

Yes, that is it.

On the day, the Phightin' Phils shelled starter Freddy Garcia, as it were, though the Yankees took the game 7-4.