Chad Jennings (The Times-Tribune) is a beat writer for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (AAA affiliate of the NY Yankees). Chad's excellent blog is a must-read for any Yankee fan. His link can be found by scrolling down to the"Yankee-related sites" header on the lower right hand side of this page.
Chad was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on a variety of topics.
CBLL: As a beat writer for the SWB Yankees, please take us through your typical day.
Chad Jennings: Wake up. Shower. Check the Internet. Eat. That's my morning, in that order, and I keep checking certain sites every hour or so throughout the day. If something breaks, then I write from home or make a hurried, earlier-than-expected drive to the stadium. If not, I want to know as much as possible when I get to the park around 4:30, earlier if I know I have a lot to work on. The big league guys get to the park much earlier than I do, but they're obviously in a different situation. When I get to the stadium, I go to the clubhouse and make small talk. I'm not usually looking for quotes, just information. Is anyone banged up? Are there call-up rumors floating around? Does anything look or sound out of the ordinary? During the game I'm either blogging or writing notebooks and Sunday features for the paper. By the sixth or seventh inning, I want to have an angle decided and my gamer partially finished, knowing that if all goes well I'm going to delete most everything that's written. Coming back to a blank screen after postgame interviews is way out of the question. Gotta have a head start, even if I don't end up needing it. I get home around 11:30, hope for a rerun of Mythbusters, then go to bed way too late.
CBLL: When did you first decide to become a sportswriter?
Chad Jennings: I was 15 years old, had to write a paper in junior high school, and for whatever reason I really enjoyed writing it. Until that moment I wanted to take over the family farm, but I got this idea that I liked words and might want to be a reporter. Covering car accidents and city council meetings sounded dull, so I wound up in sports. As a kid I had a subscription to Baseball Digest and my favorite thing to do was go to the back of the magazine where the 40-man rosters were listed, and from those rosters, choose active rosters and lineups for each team. Maybe it really started back then, but I didn't get the sports writing idea until junior high. Then I went to the University of Missouri, moved to Scranton and started living those days described above.
CBLL: All reports indicate that the Yankees have no impact position players at the AAA level. Is there anybody that you feel might be flying under the radar?
Chad Jennings: That depends on your definition of impact. I still believe Brett Gardner could develop into an interesting everyday center fielder, and I think Juan Miranda can be a platoon first baseman who gets the bulk of the starts. Beyond that, I see most of these guys as major league role players. Justin Christian's speed and Shelley Duncan's power can play in the big leagues. Chris Stewart is a legitimate Chad Moeller type defensive catcher. (Might be better, actually) Matt Carson flew under the radar for a while, but I think now most fans see him as a possibly fourth or fifth outfielder in the big leagues.
CBLL: Have the Hughes and Kennedy struggles this year surprised you?
Chad Jennings: Yes, Hughes especially. He's going to be a very good major league starter, I just expected this to be the year it happened. Instead we'll have to wait until he's an old man. When he's 23 or so. Kennedy proved last year that his stuff can translate at the big league level, it just seems that after he struggled early this season his head started spinning and he got himself into a hole. For the most part, he's been just as good as last year the times I've seen him in Triple-A. Bottom line, they're very young and player development is about patience, not hype.
CBLL: Do you get a chance to regularly watch the (NY) Yankees on television?
Chad Jennings: Not really. The YES Network is usually on in the press box and I'll go over to the TV to watch key at-bats or to watch players make their debuts, but otherwise all of the Yankees games that I see are being played on Triple-A fields. Even if I'm home for a game, I flip back and forth.
CBLL: How often do you get to Yankee Stadium?
Chad Jennings: Ready for the shocker? I've never been. I didn't grow up out here so I never went as a kid, and after I moved to Pennsylvania, my job has kept me away more than it's allowed me to go. There have been a handful of games that I was going to cover at the Stadium, but something else has always popped up and kept me from going. My first time at the Stadium was supposed to be last year during the ALCS, but...
CBLL: What type of a manager is Dave Miley?
Chad Jennings: He's fond of saying he doesn't work with the hitters, doesn't work with the pitchers, doesn't work with the fielders. He manages the game and manages the clubhouse. He's a smart baseball man and I think the players like him. He knows when to come down hard on them and when to let them have fun. He gets to the park early in the morning and leaves late at night, both on the road and at home.
CBLL: Your blog recently listed the 2008 IL award winners. I noticed that two Red Sox farm hands were selected Most Valuable Player (Jeff Bailey) and Most Valuable Pitcher (Charlie Zink). Should Yankee fans be scared?
Chad Jennings: Not really. Bailey's a utility guy who can play the outfield and first base. Good tools across the board, but nothing overwhelming. He's a bench guy in the big leagues. Zink is a knuckleballer who wasn't nearly this good last season. He might be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but I can't see him being much more than that.
CBLL: Please give us a brief scouting report and big league projection for the following players:
CBLL: Alfredo Aceves.
Chad Jennings: Throws five or six pitches and commands them pretty well. Just a matter of experience and adjustment. Projection is tough based on what I've seen. He's gotten crushed and he's been unhitable.
CBLL: Phil Coke.
Chad Jennings: Low 90s fastball. Big time slider. OK changeup. I actually like him a lot as a left-handed specialist who could prove himself as more than a situational reliever. I think he's better out of the bullpen than the rotation.
CBLL: Mark Melancon.
Chad Jennings: What else can I say. He's a beast. Mid 90s fastball with movement. Hammer curve similar to David Robertson's. Very thoughtful and polite, and willing to work. Attacks hitters, which is why his pitch count is low and his total innings high. I believe the hype that he's a future closer.
CBLL: Juan Miranda.
Chad Jennings. Good gap hitter who showed a good eye earlier this season when he wasn't hitting. It was like he knew the bat wasn't there yet, so he took his walks. The power is starting to show. Defensively he's fine, not the butcher he's sometimes made out to be. Big league platoon.
CBLL: Chase Wright.
Chad Jennings: When he keeps his sinker and changeup down in the zone, he's very good. A lot of routine grounders and weak fly balls. Control is occasionally a problem, but it's been better this year. And his curveball has come a long way, which is key for him. He was a two-pitch pitcher last season. Could be a back of the rotation starter, but I have a hard time seeing him in the bullpen because lefties sometimes give him more trouble than they should, which he admits and which he's successfully worked hard to improve.
CBLL: J.B. Cox.
Chad Jennings: Sinker, slider reliever with a deceptive delivery. Has a changeup but he leans more on the fastball and slider. Absolutely has to command the strikezone because he's never going to sneak his 87 mph fastball by a hitter. But, when he does command the strikezone, he's very effective. The slider can be a strikeout pitch, but he's a groundball guy.
CBLL: Finally, the most important question. Have you ever seen Dwight Schrute at a SWB Yankees game?
Chad Jennings: No, but I used to cover Ryan Howard. In fact, every time I hear them use the name Ryan Howard on The Office in reference to the temp, it cracks me up. Why did they have to name that guy Ryan Howard? Is there another actor in Hollywood who looks less like THE Ryan Howard?