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Checking in on the Yankees

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No New York Giants' practice today. So, a quick break from the Giants -- where I am covering training camp for Big Blue View -- to check in on the New York Yankees.

  • The bad news for the Yankees is that Sergio Mitre pitches tonight. The good news is the Yankees lead Boston by 1.5 games in the American League East. So, no matter what happens tonight the Yankees head into the four-game showdown with the Red Sox with the division lead. Mitre has a 7.90 ERA in three starts, and both he and manager Joe Girardi know he needs to be better.

Mitre spent the week trying to fix his "mechanical issues," primarily keeping his timing straight. His body has been getting ahead of his arm, causing it to lag, which makes it tough to command pitches. "There's really nothing major there," he said. "The stuff is there. It's really a matter of being consistent and putting it together."

I asked Mitre how long it usually takes during a start to gauge whether his mechanics are sound. He said he'd know soon. "The ball won't lie," he said.

"The thing for Sergio is that he gets his other pitches going," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I've seen Sergio pitch pretty well. In two of the three starts, he did what he was supposed to do. His last start, he struggled. He had no command of his breaking ball and that hurt him. I expect him to get it going tomorrow and give us a good outing."

Since a hot start, Jackson has been a .265 hitter since June 1st. Is he just tired? Or, did the league catch up to him?

What’s most concerning about Jackson, to me, are his BB/SO and AB/SO ratios. His low BB/SO ratio tells me that he’s yet to master the strike zone. And, his AB/SO ratio tells me that he whiffs a lot – which you could tolerate if he hit for power and/or drew walks. (At least, that’s what the fans of Nick Swisher tell me.) But, Jackson doesn’t walk much and has not shown homerun power (to date). What I fear the most is that his high SO rate suggests that he has some holes in his swing – and, if true, major league pitchers will have a field day taking advantage of those holes. (Think: Bernard Gilkey .)

Granted, Austin Jackson is just 22-years old. If he had elected to stay in school, he would be a senior in college right now instead of playing in Triple-A. So, you have to factor that in as well…and maybe he needs another two seasons at Triple-A before we see what he can really do?

WW's concern is valid. Jackson is a young hitter who strikes out a ton, does not draw many walks and does not hit for power. That is not a good combination. Jackson is young and may have a bright future, but I wouldn't pencil him into the Yankee lineup long-term just yet.

  • Ian Kennedy (remember him?) hopes to pitch in a few games before the Minor League season ends.
  • Chad Jennings has a brilliant entry in his Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees blog concerning the value of patience with young players. It's a must-read for Yankee fans having trouble dealing with the growing pains of Joba Chamberlain and other youngsters.

A lot of young players never pan out, and that's why a lot of fans would just assume trade them all away for established major leaguers. That's fine. But it's impossible to champion the idea of player development without also being willing to deal with some bumps along the way.

  • The Yankees' No. 1 pick, Slade Heathcott, is apparently seeking a $2 million dollar deal from the team. After losing Gerrit Cole last season, Heathcott is likely to get whatever he wants. The Yankees have to sign him.
  • Tyler Kepner of the New York Times marvels at the consistency of Mariano Rivera.