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1998 Playoffs

The Scout's View: Yankees

SI asked big league scouts who have closely followed the playoff teams to help prepare these reports. The scouts were promised anonymity in return for their candor, and here's what they revealed.

 

Posted: Wed October 7, 1998

LINEUP

Chuck Knoblauch, 2B
Has struggled this year but works deep into count and can beat you in a lot of ways.

Derek Jeter, SS
Great plate coverage. A tough out who uses whole field. Will chase breaking pitches on occasion. Superior range defensively; allows other infielders to position one more step away.

Paul O'Neill, RF
Another tough out who never gives away an at bat. Sets up pitchers at times. Very good rightfielder.

Bernie Williams, CF
Gets deeper in count more than ever. Not afraid to take a walk and pass the baton to next hitter. Terrific range in center but doesn't come in well on balls.

Tino Martinez, 1B
Power to all fields. Hard sliders and fastballs that sink or run away give him trouble.

Chili Davis, DH
Switch-hitter loves the low fastball. Good mistake hitter and better with runners on. Lefthanded, he struggles with balls above the waist.

Jorge Posada, C
He'll swing over good breaking stuff, especially from the left side. Excellent defensively. Moves feet so well, it's like having a shortstop behind the plate.

Shane Spencer, LF
Sliders and changeups can get him out. He can juice any fastball; you can't get it by him. Has struck out a lot in past but riding a wave right now.

Scott Brosius, 3B
Comfortable at bottom of lineup where there's no pressure. Power to both gaps. Pitchers challenge him and Posada to try to avoid top of lineup, but they can hurt you. Very good defensive third baseman.

Bench

OF Tim Raines loves to hit to leftfield from left side. Dives into the ball. Can get him out with hard stuff inside. C Joe Girardi is a singles and doubles hitter with a short stroke; very good catcher. OF Chad Curtis likes ball up and will chase pitches too high. Infielders Homer Bush and Luis Sojo are adequate but have a tendency to take too big a swing. OF Ricky Ledee is a good, not great, all-around player.

Rotation

David Wells, LHP
In a helluva groove. Can put his fastball anywhere he wants and cuts it sometimes. Throws curve anytime in the count. Shows a changeup occasionally. Basically a two-pitch guy who is tough to bet against when pitching with confidence.

David Cone, RHP
Ability to give hitter different looks—overhand, three-quarters and sidearm—a big plus. Hitters don't get comfortable. Has nasty, tight slider with late bite, and a slower, bigger breaking slider that buckles righthanded hitters' knees.

Andy Pettitte, LHP
Lives on his changeup and cut fastball. Has a good curve and should use it more.

Orlando Hernandez, RHP
Pitches backward: Uses his good curve and slider to set up his fastball, which has good movement. Lefthanded batters are comfortable facing him, because they get a good look at the ball.

Bullpen

RH closer Mariano Rivera has plus fastball that seems to start out at hitter's belt and ends up at his eyes. Good cutter. Last month started showing a slider with a little bigger break. You never know which Hideki Irabu will show up. Sometimes righthander looks like he doesn't want to be out there. Body language is pathetic. Fastball has tendency to be straight. Lives off his splitter. RH Jeff Nelson's nasty sinker is tough on righthanded hitters. Lefties hit him, though, because they get good look at his sweeping slider. LH Mike Stanton has straight fastball and is up in the zone a lot. Gives up too many homers. With his long arms LH Graeme Lloyd is tough on lefties: "Wraparound" breaking ball gets them to flinch. RH Ramiro Mendoza has excellent sinker that runs away from righthanded batters. Slider has short break.

Bottom Line

Can't see anybody beating this team. Yankees can hit, pitch, run and catch, and they have a good manager. They don't panic and don't beat themselves, so opponent better be near perfect.

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