What Mark Muhlanson Means To Me

I know, I know. It’s spelled Melancon. Every now and then I can’t help myself and go all phonetics with ballplayer’s names. What can I say. The point is that I felt compelled to write about Melly (I bet that’s what Girardi calls him) with pitchers and catchers showing up in Tampa as I type this. There’s been so much talk about whether Hughes or Joba should be in the pen, not to mention what the Yankees will do without lefties Coke and Dunn. It dawned on me tonight that Melly’s season could be just as key. Let’s take a closer look.
OK, so he doesn’t have much of a neck. Big deal. Neither did Walt “No Neck” Williams, who was an All-Star with the White Sox once upon a time.
And he’s very fair, in hair and skin, but so was Shane Spencer.
shane spencer.jpg
Oh, wait. That didn’t work out very well. Here’s a much better example.
But appearances aside, if Melly has a breakout season in 2010, it would be huge for the Yanks. And it’s not impossible. He was outstanding in Scranton in 2009, throwing 11 scoreless innings over his first six appearances, striking out 17 and walking only 3. That’s insane. Then he struggled with his control when he got called up to the Bronx – an understatement. Who can forget May 5th in Boston when he walked all three batters he faced and was promptly sent packing?
When he was brought back to the majors late in the season, Girardi was reluctant to use him in pressure situations and with good reason; he was still somewhat of a wild man. 
And yet baseball scouts seem to like his stuff (I know, that’s what they said about Jose Veras too). I’m just saying he could play a pivotal role in the pen this year if he figures out how to throw inside without hitting people.


  1. mikeeff

    hey i’m sure you remember all the hype about him last winter…on the blogs he was already being named Mariano’s heir without having thrown a major league pitch. from what we’ve seen of him–the lack of control in particular, but not having any+ pitch that i’m aware of…we’ll see. that’s the fun of it. i see D-Rob as being this year’s star reliever

  2. Jane Heller

    Yes, indeed, I’m planning to go to Yanks-Dodgers, Cat. Right now I’m shooting for the Saturday game in that series. Of course I haven’t gotten tickets yet, but I figure they’ll be available on stubhub. I know you’ll be there so we’ll have to meet up! Lots of Yankee fans are flying out from NY so it should be great.

    I do remember the hype, Mike. And I was disappointed that he didn’t live up to it. But I think he’s got talent and I’d love to see him prove it this year, the way D-Rob shined last year. Knock on wood.

  3. Jane Heller

    Spring training, finally, Ana. And not a moment too soon. I’m very interested in the makeup of the bullpen this year. We lost a few guys (Coke, Dunn, Bruney) so it’ll be very important for Robertson – and Melancon – to perform well.

  4. Jane Heller

    He had great control in the minors, Rob. But his record after getting called up was less impressive. If he does have a big season it would be huge for us, as we’d have more flexibility with Hughes and Joba.

  5. jojovanb27@hotmail.com


    Thanks for highlighting Melly and also for adding a current picture of Johnny Damon. I wondered how he’d look once he was no longer restrained by a Yankee contract. (No offense meant to Johnny. I love what he did for us while in pinstripes and wish he was still here.)

    I never worry about a young pitcher’s control problems. I’m old enough to remember a guy who had trouble throwing strikes for the Dodgers. He grew up to be Sandy Koufax.

    Koufax comparisons aren’t fair to anyone, but I just throw that out there as a reminder of what can happen when young guys are given the opportunity to both develop their skills and harness their talents. You have to have the talent, but above all other positions, pitching success takes place between the ears.

  6. cheshirecat9

    Hi Jane. I was killing time waiting for someone last night and was scrolling through Facebook on my phone. I saw the headline for this post on FB was “Mark Melancon may not have much of a neck, but he could be so important for the 2010 Yanks.” Made me laugh out loud in the lobby of the movie theater. I saw Crazy Heart with my friend and I totally had the same reaction as you when Jeff Bridges says he was once a baseball player. although thanks to your warning I only cheered in my head, not out loud. Melacon is interesting. I hope he has a great spring and makes the major league staff and stays there. I don’t know if he’s the next Mo (okay, there will never be another Mo) but having a good relief corps is important if we are goign to repeat.

  7. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    It’s always interesting to watch the young guys and see if they can make it. Let’s hope no neck has a great season!

    There have been Yankees things all over! Watching the Olympics last night, one of the coaches (or some sort of helper) on the snowboard cross had a Jeter shirt on.

    And one report about the Westminster Dog Show noted: Among the notables at ringside were Broadway star Bernadette Peters and a top official from baseball’s big dogs, New York Yankees president Randy Levine.


  8. diane.anziano@gmail.com

    Wow! An extremely informative and entertainingly funny entry, Jane. Great job. I hope Melancon does well this season; I’m sure most of it is going to hinge on how he handles the attention that comes with playing in pinstripes. Some people can do it…some can’t. KEVIN BROWN!!!

  9. thefreak

    Just like every true Yankees fan, I love baby bombers. So I’m pulling for Melly. Then again, I’m pulling for every Yankee whether they are home grown or not.

    Do you feel that? Training camp has begun. Its like someone just turned on the air to my baseball oxygen tank.

    I can feel my baseball strength growing and I should be blogging again before you know it.

    Kudos to you Jane for getting everyone thru this off season.

  10. Jane Heller

    A current picture of Damon. HAHAHA, jojovanb! You’re right about young pitchers and control problems. (Wouldn’t it be nice if they all morphed into Koufax?) Maturity does kick in. And so much of their success is “figuring it out.” I wish that for Joba as well as Melly.

    Glad the Facebook headline made you laugh, cheshirecat!! I try to mix up the titles of the posts depending on where I put them. So you got a thrill when Jeff Bridges’ character said he wanted to be a baseball player? Told you so! I don’t know if Melly is the next Mo. I’d like to see him get people out first. 🙂 I see Joba or D-Rob as possible 8th inning guys who could be in line as Mo’s heir apparent….eventually. But, as we know, things could change.

    I missed the Jeter shirt during the snowboard cross last night, Melissa. I turned it off until they got back to the skating. Drives me absolutely nuts that NBC puts the west coast on tape delay, then keeps teasing “back to the skating in a few minutes.” Yeah, like a few hours. So Randy Levine was at Westminster? Maybe he’s got a dog. I’d guess a pit bull. lol.

    Ugh. Don’t even mention Kevin Brown, Diane. He still gets my blood boiling. The pitcher I worry about in terms of pressure in pinstripes is Vazquez. Melly is more a case of maturing and getting control of his pitches. But Javvy? He needs to pitch in a big game situation for us, do well, and make me a believer.

    I do feel it, Mike. The oxygen in the tank has been turned on. It’s time!!!! Will look forward to seeing your blog back up and running. Will you be posting about Shelley? lol.

  11. Jane Heller

    As jojobanb said, Paul, control problems with young pitchers aren’t the end of the world. But this is the season for showing everybody he does know where the ball is going. He’s getting his chance and he needs to do something with it.

  12. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Thanx for the update on the pen, Jane…missed Melly’s cups of coffee last season…even tho’ they were cold, and rather bitter…but hope, like beisbol training, springs eternal…!
    Note to Melissa — thanx for that strange & fascinating music blog thing…between that and the Lady Gaga CD, I’ll be diving into fresh tune-waters (and thank you too, Diane)…there’s a definite Queen and Bowie influence, which I admire (not the gender-bending, the music stuff)…but everything goes today, so what the hey…
    Now, back to the ballpark. Yeah, She-Fan, Javy worries me too…but I remember how little faith I had in A.J. at this time a year ago (I “guaranteed” Jersey Bob that he’d get hurt, ‘he always does, like Nick Johnson’ — oh, shut up Dave!)…so let’s all root root root for pleasant surprises…?!

  13. Jane Heller

    It’s interesting that you were worried about A.J. last year, Dave. I know he came with the reputation for being injury-plagued, but for some reason I was really excited about his signing. Well, I know the reason: he was practically unhittable against the Yanks when he was with the Jays and I was salivating over him doing the same for us. Javvy, on the other hand, doesn’t inspire confidence because of – as jojovanb said above – what’s between his ears. As for Nick Johnson, I’m just shrugging my shoulders and hoping for the best.

  14. Jane Heller

    He doesn’t have much of a neck, but let’s hope his arm is strong, Virginia! Yep, we made it through the LONG off-season and now it’s officially pre-season. I like the sound of that a lot.

  15. welikeroywelikeroy


    Your entry encouraged me to read the scouting report on Melancon. I feel bad for him in the New York bullpen. It can be a tough place for a young pitcher. It seems that like many young pitchers with good stuff – he has some command problems. I’ve never seen him pitch, but they say he has an ‘over-dramatic’ delivery. Maybe he could act off-Broadway if this pitching thing doesn’t work out? They also say he brings a ‘hammer’ of a curveball to the table, so that is a good sign.

  16. Jane Heller

    Thanks for checking out Melancon, Jeremy. The pen can be a tough place for a young pitcher. On the other hand, it provides opportunities if a kid succeeds. An over-dramatic delivery doesn’t sound good at all, particularly for a pitcher who’s already had Tommy John surgery. But I like the sound of his curve ball.

  17. Jane Heller

    I don’t think the expectations are that high, gonzo. And I wouldn’t feel sorry for Melancon. He’s getting the chance of a lifetime.

  18. sunraeny@aim.com

    Aw, I miss Shane Spencer! I was such a big fan of his! I was always mad that Torre would never give him a chance to play RF exclusively. He was always platooning him with Marcus Thames and Juan Rivera and others. I thought if he had been given a fair shot, he could have been great! Thanks for the picture and walk down memory lane!!

  19. Jane Heller

    Shane was really good in the beginning, sunraeny. I thought he was going to be the next Roger Maris the way he was bashing homers. Too bad it didn’t work out for him. I enjoy the walks down memory lane too, so look for more of them!

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