Results tagged ‘ YES Network ’

David Cone: Tanaka’s splitter is world-class

Masahiro TanakaFormer big league pitcher and current YES Network analyst David Cone was one of the honorees at last night’s Thurman Munson awards dinner in Manhattan, and he mentioned that he has been busy studying video of new Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

Cone, who knows a thing or two about splitters, raved that Tanaka’s strikeout pitch will immediately make an impact.

“I don’t know if it’s the best split-fingered fastball in the world, but it’s certainly among the top five right now,” Cone said. “He has that kind of talent, in terms of velocity and movement. When you look at a split-fingered fastball, having thrown it for most of my career, I look at how late it breaks. The late movement and the velocity it retains. He has both of those. He has high velocity and late movement on that splitter, which puts it among the best in the world.”

Cone said that the Yankees will probably want to be creative with how they slot Tanaka on off-days, considering that he will be learning to pitch in a five-man rotation as opposed to once a week in Japan. Cone said that he believes Tanaka is ready to make those adjustments.

“All indications are that he’s a true professional and that he works extremely hard, and he comes prepared to pitch,” Cone said. “He’s really polished for a 25-year-old. When I was 25, I was still learning to throw a split-fingered fastball. He’s 25 and he’s got one of the best in the world. He’s ready for this challenge, in my mind. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch him.”

The YES Network will give fans the opportunity to see for themselves on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. ET, when they re-air Tanaka’s June 9, 2013 start for the Rakuten Golden Eagles against the Yomiuri Giants. Tanaka threw seven shutout innings in that game, logging the eighth win of his perfect 24-0 season.

YES analysts Ken Singleton, John Flaherty and Al Leiter recently viewed that performance and offered these takes:

John Flaherty

His fastball looks like it has a little more movement than I heard it did.  It sinks in a bit on right-handed hitters; not enough to call it a sinker, but enough that the hitter will pay attention.  He threw a lot of sliders-cutters in this game.  It looks like he has a lot of confidence in it and he threw it for strikes when he was behind in the count.  That tells me that this is his off-speed pitch that a catcher can call anytime and have confidence that it will be a strike.  Kind of a get-me-back-in-the-count pitch.”

“His curve ball might not be a strikeout pitch, but it could be used for a get-me-over strike on the first pitch of an at-bat.  The split looks like the best swing-and-a-miss pitch for him.  I thought he would throw it more but he picked his spots in this game.  You can see how a catcher will go to that pitch when the game is on the line.”

“His delivery is simple and he loads up on his back leg well.  He is quick to the plate out of the stretch, so Brian McCann is going to love that.  It also looks like he is a good athlete and fields his position well.”

Ken Singleton

I was impressed with his control. He is constantly working the corners with all of his pitches. Tanaka has enough fastball, a good curve, a slider and a top-shelf splitter. He was not afraid to use his curve and slider when behind in the count. All his pitches were quality.”

Al Leiter

“I think Masahiro Tanaka’s repertoire and stuff plays very well. His fastball velocity will sit at the 91-93 mph mark and occasional touch 95.  He has a very good split that has great late action with good velocity.  His split finger is his main secondary pitch and his slider is better than his curveball.”

“I really like his mound presence and disposition. He pitches with a fire in his belly and is emotionally involved.”

“I think Tanaka can be a front-end starter once he gets acclimated to the routine of American baseball.”

Cone: “Free agents do not need to apply here”

Former Yankees pitcher and current YES Network broadcaster David Cone was at Yankee Stadium yesterday, helping manager Joe Girardi pack boxes for the USO to be sent to troops overseas.

While he was there, Cone delivered a few thoughts on the state of the Yankees, who have been relatively quiet so far this offseason. Cone believes that the Yankees are very serious about the $189 million payroll target for the 2014 season, and as such, he seems to expect that there won’t be much moving and shaking on the free agent market for Brian Cashman and company this winter.

He probably has a point; the Yankees look much more inclined to try for one-year contracts, and reportedly never made an offer to also named the revamped Blue Jays as his favorite in the American League East. Here are some of the highlights from the group interview Cone conducted in the Great Hall; it’s good reading…

On what the Yankees need to do this winter:
“They’re a little hamstrung right now because of the payroll issue. Obviously they’re serious about that, they’re going to get under that threshold next year. They need the veteran pitchers to come back. They need [Hiroki] Kuroda and [Andy] Pettitte to say yes. That helps a lot. Then they can concentrate on replacing [Nick] Swisher, finding the right combination – whether it’s Ichiro [Suzuki], finding the right mix in that outfield. If Pettitte says no and Kuroda says no, that just leaves some gaping holes in the rotation, so then Cashman’s got more work to do. He’s already got a tough job this winter, but if he’s got rotation problems, it’s going to be that much more difficult.”

On the impact of the $189 million objective:
“It’s shaking up the free agent market, that’s for sure – not just this year, but a couple of years; probably since ’09 or ’08. A lot of agents are out there waiting for the Yankees to get back in the game and they’re not in the game. It may take a couple of more years. I think most people realize this is probably a one-year thing with the Yankees so they can reset the tax rate. If they get under one year then maybe the Yankees will be back in play again. Free agents do not need to apply here, as far as right now.”

On the mindset of the Yankees under Hal Steinbrenner:
“I think they’re hungry to win, but I think it’s a different philosophy. There are more metrics being used, more analysis on the back end. There’s definitely a different way of going about business. I still think the hunger to win is there. Obviously there’s a glitch in the road here with the payroll. They really do need to get under the threshold to reset the tax rate. They’re serious about it, there’s no doubt it’s going to happen, so for a year or two here they’re going to have to get creative.

“I’m sure revenue is an issue for them, but they make money on the YES Network. They have a lot of sources of revenue. Honestly, I think it’s more about the brand with them; protecting the brand. Winning is a big part of that, without a doubt. They really need to get creative in terms of their roster for a year or two, even though it’s hard to feel sorry for the Yankees at $189 million. No one is ever going to feel sorry for the Yankees. They do have some contracts that obviously they have to contend with.”

On the changing of the Yankees’ philosophy since George Steinbrenner:
“Definitely, the philosophy has changed. George, he would have been the one knocking on the door of some of these free agents. He would have been on Albert Pujols last year. He would’ve been in on some of the big free agents. That’s just not the case right now. Not to say that they won’t do that in the future, but they’re going to be very careful about which guys they choose, and how far out they go on long term deals.”

On if George Steinbrenner would have tried to get under $189 million:
“He probably would’ve. It’s hard to say. If there’s somebody like Albert Pujols out there, that’s the kind of guy George would’ve loved to have had here. It would’ve been interesting to see him resist somebody like him. George was a good businessman too, he would’ve got the numbers and understood it was a one-year thing and they just needed to reset for one year to get under the threshold, then they could go back again and be active.”

On the Yankees’ 2012 postseason:
“The fact that they were a little too one-dimensional with home runs hurt them, although Ichiro did give them a spark at the end. That’s why the fans reacted to Ichiro so strongly, he’s such a popular guy. Yankees fans loved the fact that he was here and gave them a different dimension. Maybe with [Brett] Gardner coming back, maybe they can get that dimension back. Two years ago they had it; [Curtis] Granderson actually ran the bases better two years ago along with Gardner. They weren’t quite as one dimensional two years ago as they were last year.”

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