New Faces to Watch

Ken Davidoff of Newsay has a really good piece on Mick Kelleher, the Yankees’ new first-base and infielders coach.  Kelleher is different from Larry Bowa, the outstanding and outspoken former third-base and infielders coach for the Yankees, in that Kelleher’s approach is based more on positive reinforcement.  Given Robinson Cano’s struggles last year, including bouts of pouting and laziness, one might think that Kelleher will have difficulty reaching Cano and A-Rod.  We’ll see, but the positive, honest, and people-oriented approach didn’t seem to hurt Joe Torre much.  The real issue will be Cano, A-Rod, and the players themselves.  Can they motivate themselves? Can they take a dedicated, no-nonsense, positive, winning mindset day in and day out?  Not to be overlooked, will the Yankees get an infusion of personality with experience and dedication from newcomers Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett, and Swisher that will help set a good example? In sum, can Kelleher’s approach be coupled with an overall fine-tuning of not just Cano’s and A-Rod’s mindsets, but that of the team as a whole that has sorely needed some rewiring from the neck up?

If so, I couldn’t care less if it’s the positivism of Kelleher, a defensive specialist in the organization from 1996-2002 and in recent years, or Bowa’s hard-nose approach that reaches players and helps them realize new heights.  Adding on to Davidoff’s fine piece, I think there’s the possibility that Kelleher just might complement and balance Girardi’s generally positive but certainly intense, no-nonsense attitude, just as Bowa was bad cop to Torre’s good cop.

Pete Abraham has been watching the throwing sessions of Mark Melancon, CC Sabathia, and Chien-Ming Wang and has come away quite impressed.  On Melancon:

Just watched Mark Melancon face Derek Jeter, Robbie Cano, Austin Jackson and Austin Romine.

Wow. 30 pitches and there were four swing and misses. He also broke Cano’s bat. There were two balls put in play, singles by Jeter and Romine.

Melancon’s fastball was as advertised. He also threw five curveballs and all but one were strikes. It’s a big curve, too.

After his TJ surgery, the Yankees used him carefully last season. But he’s ready to be unleashed now.

That’s awfully good to hear.  Melancon has been groomed for set-up work in the minors and has done quite well, even saving a few games.  Reiterating his 2008 stats shows that the hard-throwing righty, turning 24 in late March, may be ready for The Bronx with a good Spring Training:

8-1, 2.27 ERA, 95 IP, 89 K, 22 BB, 69 hits, .202 BAA.

What stands out is that, as Melancon steadily progressed through the ranks from Tampa to Trenton to SWB last year, he logged a lot of innings–95–and his results stayed excellent as he faced better competition.  At Trenton, Melancon was 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA, fanning 47 in 49 2/3, while allowing only 32 hits and a .183 BAA.  He was also very good at SWB, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 22 in 20 innings, and only yielding a .163 BAA, 11 hits, and 4 walks.  The guy dominated.  Not to be overlooked–in 95 minor-league innings last year, Melancon only allowed 6 home runs.  Melancon unquestionably deserves a shot to make the show this Spring, and I hope he continues to impress when facing live competition.

I might try to catch the Celtics-Suns game starting soon.  The Celtics will be without KG for at least a couple weeks with a knee injury, while the Suns will be without Amare Stoudamire for a couple months while he recovers from surgery to repair a partially detached retina in his right eye.  It will be interesting to see how the Celtics will defend without KG against the Suns who, under new coach Alvin Gentry, have returned to their run-and-gun ways and scored over 140 points in three straight games–all blowout wins against inferior opponents.

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Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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