Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ugly Game

While nova simply could not throw his curve for a strike unless he hung it, This game got out of hand because of a terrible play by Ellsbury in CF.  He got about as bad a read on a ball as possible (VERY late start) and then came running in and took a poor line to the ball, playing it off to the side, and not getting a glove on it to attempt to knock it down.  he turned a routine out into a triple (the scoring is absurd as that is an error, I don't care whether he got a glove on it or not - the word error means a mistake and that was clearly a mistake).  In the first inning, pitchers need help and this was the opposite and was a large reason the game got out of hand.

BTW, this was the type of game Ellsbury and Didi could take a game off with a lefty on the mound..of course, they just got a game off (at a bad time).

Today they talked about possibly moving CC to the pen. Maybe they should read this blog earlier because they spoke to his good job at getting lefties out...

Good to see Tex back in the lineup.

They should just drop Capuano now; of course they never should have gotten him in the first place.

Brendan Ryan was the only Yankee pitcher to not allow a run...and he pitched 2 scoreless innings.

At least it is only one leos!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Finally, A Post!

Hello Fellow Genius Makers!

I have been catching a lot of well-deserved flak for not writing in a long time…As I said, I started a new job and then went on a 2 week Europe trip, but I have been watching and or looking at the box scores when away.  I have wanted to write after a bunch of games, but just have not been able to…so let’s get to it!

I will focus on the Cleveland series and then go through my thoughts from the last bunch of weeks.

Losing 3 of 4 at home to Cleveland is disappointing; Cleveland is not very good.  The first game, I felt the Yankees did not hit well as they had a ton of hittable pitches and couldn’t cash in on them.  Friday night, Carrasco was tough to hit so I give them a pass, but the defense and not hitting the bullpen was an issue.  Beltran let a ball go over his head that he took a terrible path to and then gave up, McCann dropped a popup in the stands (not an easy play, but one that should be made) and the next pitch was a HR, and Brendan Ryan uncharacteristically messed up a slow bounding ball that cost us a run and could have been more.  Maybe his absurd moustache got in the way?  The win was a good one as we watched Severino once again show that he has solid major league stuff.  I still think he will need something he can throw that is less than 88 MPH, but throwing a consistent 96-97 with an 88 MPH change that has good movement is very effective.  His slider at 88 also is the one concern I have, but because he mixes in a cutter at around 91/92 his ball is moving in a lot of different directions between the cutter moving left, the change going down and right and the slider down and to the left.  Another breaking pitch in the 82/83 range would be very effective and make everything else even stronger.   He is exciting though and has pitched to a 2.74 ERA in his 4 starts.    It is pretty clear he can be a mid 3 ERA guy already.  Last night was frustrating to watch Betances give up the game winning run because he simply could not throw a strike with his breaking ball and an excellent fastball hitter jumped on what he knew was coming and drilled a HR.  Betances has elite stuff, but needs to get better command of his pitches so he can throw either one at any time (which he already does).  He still has been great, so I am nitpicking, but 27 walks in 66 IP is one area for improvement. 

A couple of other comments from the series:

1.        I don’t understand Girard’s thought process in resting guys like Ellsbury and Didi against a righty?  While the pitcher was not better against righties, why not get them a blow when a lefty is on the mound; they obviously were not hurt as Girardi brought them in later in the game anyway (which doesn’t really give their bodies rest anyway because they have to get ready twice in many ways).  As I have said before, if you want to give someone rest, it would be best to shut them down for the day and know you won’t use them and this way the body does get a full rest.  It is also why I stated I didn’t want any of my players going to the All Star game; why do I want to have to rest my players during games that matter so they can play in games that don’t matter?
2.        In the last game, Gardner made an accurate throw home on a short fly ball to get a double play.  The play made by JR Murphy though was an excellent one.  Gardner’s throw was not going to make it on a fly and Murphy decided to come up and get it on a shorter hop (it was a little longer than he would have liked) which was as close as he could move up and still make the tag.  It was a very tough play and he adjusted very well and made a fantastic “scoop” and tag.  At 24 years of age, he is a solid backup and can develop into a nice starter.  He can hit the ball the opposite way and is more of a line drive hitter than a HR hitter but has room to grow.  His eye could get a little better in terms of taking walks, but his defense is solid
3.        McCann came into the game to catch after DH’ing and made a terrific throw (Didi snapped the tag well too) to throw out a base stealer.  McCann’s ability to throw guys out has been great this year to go along with a very solid .780 OPS.  I don’t like his new stance as I don’t see it being that effective the way he sets up, but that may also be because it looks very uncomfortable to me.
4.        CC getting injured may be a blessing.  I am not sure how bad his knee pain is, but maybe this will force Girardi to make the decision he should have made a while ago.   There is not a single pitcher in all of baseball who has pitched as much as CC (138 IP with a 5.27 ERA) has who has a higher ERA…not one!  That says it all.  The other factor is he simply does not have good stuff and his command is not good enough to get rid of it.  Yesterday was a microcosm of his issues.  He is ahead in the count and tries to come inside with his 89-91 MPH fastball and he leaves it over the middle of the plate and gets ripped for a double.  Later, he has the same exact situation and he tries to come in again and leaves it over the plate and allows a 2 run HR.  You simply can’t make those mistakes on a consistent basis and be remotely effective.   I have said since the day they moved Warren out of the rotation that Warren (more on Warren later) deserved to stay in there and CC should be used as a LOOGY and they could drop Capuano and have another bench player to pinch hit for Didi against a lefty or Drew (who has not been as horrible since the All Star break with a .718 OPS since the All Star break).  Still not good, but not the anemic .536 OPS he had last year or even the .526 OPS he had through May this year.   Michael Kay made a comment that I thought was absurd when he said that Drew probably felt that he could help the team the most by getting to 20 HR’s.  I assume that was Mike’s opinion and Drew wouldn’t have said that, but regardless, it is a stupid comment because hitting 20 HR’s by itself doesn’t mean a whole lot…so if he gets 5 more HR’s and doesn’t get any other hits or walks or play defense, that is the best way he can help the team???  Of course, not, the best way he can help the team is to play solid defense and give us at the minimum an OPS of .720 and hopefully more.
5.        I don’t like the umpiring crew we had for Cleveland; even though we got a huge break in the win when they incorrectly ruled that Didi was within the area of turning two on a bad throw by our rookie 1st baseman (Bird).  We were not necessarily getting the bad calls with the exception of last night where the umpire was simply bad.  Ellsbury got called out on a clear ball 4 in the 9th inning.  Man on first with one out (and a fast man) or 2 outs and nobody on is a huge difference.  Very inconsistent and what made it even more annoying was he had just called a better pitch a ball earlier in the count…really bad and impossible to bat when an ump is so inconsistent.
6.        One last comment about last night’s game was when Cleveland’s pitcher was really struggling throwing strikes and after a single and a walk to Gardner, Bauer went 3-0 to Beltran.  I said out loud do not give him the green light and when Michael Kay asked the question I said NO!  Beltran actually got a very good pitch to hit and when he swung I thought he might have gotten it, but he didn’t and flew out to the warning track.  As it turned out, the pitch he got was a good one to swing it, but I still would have given him the take sign as their pitcher was struggling.  Announcers said he has earned the right to swing 3-0, but more important the manager should control game as the players should not be as smart as the manager when it comes to strategy.  I don’t think their pitcher could throw 3 strikes in a row at that point and what happened is the reason you don’t swing in that spot…you could still get out on a perfectly hittable pitch…

Other notes:
·       Speaking of strategy, I had a ton of issues with Girardi over the weeks I didn’t write.  It started with some of his inexplicable moves with the bullpen taking guys out who were throwing very well (like Warren) after only 2/3 of an inning so he could bring in Betances in a tie game and pitch him for 5 or 6 outs and then being stuck without anyone in extra innings.  I have said this for years (I used to get mad at Torre for doing the same thing) if a guy is going well in a close game you want to ride him as long as you can because the game may go into extra innings and you never know when a good pitcher just doesn’t have it.  This cost us a Toronto game (Unfortunately, I knew Toronto would be the team we had to worry about) and led to that bad sweep they had against us.  It hurt because he also ended up wasting Betances’ innings and he wasn’t available after that.  The ripple effect set us up for that bad run.
·       Continuing on Girardi (you have to allow me to vent after this much time)…One of the strange moves made by Girardi was when he took out (I think it was Justin Wilson) who was throwing fine, but did throw a wild pitch on an 0-2 count that allowed the tying run to 2nd base.  So on a 1-2 count he switched to Betances (I think) and Betances ended up walking that batter and we lost the game.  The move itself in the right spot I am OK with (meaning taking a pitcher out mid-stream for a specific reason I am fine with), but it was surprising in the situation that was going on.  That being said, it was Joe’s pompous, arrogant, condescending response when asked about it by the media that ticks me off. After the game when questioned about it, Girardi simply said it was "Strategy."  When prompted again, he said something like "It was strategy--that's all I'm saying on the subject--you can print what you want."  He pulls that crap all the time and it bothers me a lot.  He is simply not genuine in his responses; I think we get BS all the time from him.  I don’t think he is a bad person and he is not a bad manager, he just takes too long to make decisions (such as moving Robby Thompson off of 3rd base), but his condescending tone annoys me.
·       In the Cleveland series there was a play that nobody mentioned but when JR Murphy was throwing the pitch back to the pitcher he threw it off the helmet of Brantley the lefty batter.   I am not sure if I have ever seen that throwing back to the pitcher?
·       Eovaldi has been a very lucky pitcher having a 13-2 record and a 4.24 ERA.  It goes to show you why the record of a pitcher is more about run support…note I said more and not exclusively as you need to understand the situation and sometimes pitch according to that situation.  Meaning with a big lead you may groove a few more pitches to avoid walks and you may even give up a run to get an out, but regardless 13-2 is very lucky with a 4.24 ERA.
·       I said I would get back to Warren…He has been excellent over his last 10.2 scoreless innings allowing only 4 hits and 2 walks and striking out 11.  As I have said, should be in the rotation.  His ERA as a starter was 3.59 and there was no reason to move him.    Hopefully Mitchell comes back strong, but we are very deep at starters and this is more the reason to pull CC, maybe we get lucky and he is injured and it forces Girard’s hand?
·       Finally, I wanted to note the retiring of Posada and Pettitte’s numbers.  It was cool to see but I was more interested in listening to some of their comments; I paid more attention to Posada.  But I thought it was interesting that the first person that came to mind when they were asked the toughest hitter to get out was Edgar Martinez.  Manny was also brought up, but Posada talked about how Edgar was so balanced at the plate and he didn’t have a weakness you could exploit.  Edgar should be proud as that is best compliment you can get as a hitter.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday's Game

I have said before how I think Flaherty (Flash) is a good announcer, but I have found myself disagreeing with him a lot of late.  In the game Saturday afternoon, He said in the first inning how much sharper Tanaka looked and I was watching the games on tape delay (as usual) with my daughter (who was more just in the room watching occasionally and when I replayed with commentary) and said out loud, “I have no idea what he is seeing?”  From the start, I saw a pitcher who was not painting corners and was behind almost all hitters with decent/mediocre stuff.  His slider and curve were inconsistent each time thrown as was his splitter.  His fastball was 90 most of the time and topping out at 93 a few times but I don’t think any of those were for strikes.   Somewhere in the 4th or so Flash said that his stuff looked good, but he seemed out of sorts.  I didn’t think his stuff looked good and his command was very poor as well.  Now, I am not saying I have no faith in Tanaka, but I am saying he has not thrown well his last two outings and Girardi stuck with him too long in both outings.  He will get it back, I am confident in that, but as a manager you need to see what a guy has... so while Girardi was drinking the same Kool-Aid Flaherty was, Girardi almost cost us the game.  Fortunately, McCann bailed out Tex in the first inning, after Tex popped into an infield fly rule with nobody out and bases loaded , by hitting a no doubt grand slam.  The Yanks added 2 more on a 2 run homer by Chris Young as the Houston pitcher was throwing up hanging changeups after topping out his fastball at 89.

The Yanks had a 6-0 lead until Tanaka gave it back over 5 innings.

Tex, who hurt us early in this game at the plate, came through with a very nice 2 run double to LC and the Yankees almost added another run when McCann also went the other way on a very slow change from Neshak, but Tex got a bad jump/read and held at 3rd.  The Yanks did add their 9th run when Headley crushed a ball to LC (from the right side).  I didn’t hear how far that ball was but I can guarantee it was 50 feet further than the listed 411 feet on ESPN)

The bullpen pitched 4 scoreless innings with all of them looking pretty good.  Mitchell has a 96/97 MPH fastball and a good curve and clearly has strike out stuff.  Shreve got out of a jam and Wilson held the 8th turning it over to Betances who didn’t paint corners but his stuff was good enough to get the final 3 outs only allowing 1 hit.

Other Notes:
·      The ump was pretty bad in this game as he was very inconsistent.  If anything he gave us the benefit of the doubt and we also got a large break when the ump at 2nd ruled their 2nd baseman was off the bag on a possible DP.  He was off but he then kicked the bag with his right foot.  Houston correctly challenged it but we caught a break when the replay ruled inconclusive (I guess?).  I am pretty sure he touched the base, but I can see why the umpire live ruled him off as he was on it then got off to catch the ball, but he missed the drag/kick of the right foot into the bag.  This was a huge call as The Yanks ended up scoring 3 runs in that inning and could have had more if Beltran didn’t hit into a DP with 1st and 3rd and 1 out.
·      Beltran also misplayed a line drive that should have been caught into a double by coming in on the ball and then VERY slowly turning to go back after his mistake.
·      Early in the game Chris Young bunted Gardner over to 2nd on his own and the announcers questioned a hot guy doing that, but I think he was trying for a hit so I have no issue.  That being said, in the 8th inning with Gardner on first, I wanted either Gardner to steal early or a bunt and run or just a bunt and instead Young hit into the fielders’ choice where we caught the break on the reviewed play.  Gardner has to run earlier in the count to avoid the possible DP and in that spot they needed to get something going.
·      Finally, I have said this a few times over the years, but why do we want the Yankees in the All Star game?  I want my guys to rest during the break so we don’t have to rest them during games that matter.  Please, let other teams take all their players so we can rest up and give us the best chance to win games that matter…and we even save some money on All Star appearances that maybe we can spend on some 2nd baseman.  Seriously, do you want to see Betances or Miller pitch during the All Star game?  I don’t!

June 26

I know I have not written in a while but I have been watching, but just haven’t been able to find the time to write it down (I started a new job).  Rather than go through all the games, I wanted to highlight when the Yankees started into a bad funk a few weeks back.  I thought it was 100% because of Girardi’s terrible decision to not pitch Betances in the 8th inning of a game we had just taken a 2 run lead on and instead allowed Lindgren to pitch and allow a 2 run HR to tie the game which sent it into extra innings that we ended up losing.  A terrible decision (a head scratching one) not only cost us that one game, but we had to use pitchers we would not have had to and we went into a bad spell just because of the bad decision.

Last night’s Houston game was a nice win and it came from a source that had been ice cold…until the last week…Chris Young.  After his hot start where his OPS was over 1.000 mid-May, he was horrible compiling a .125 average and a .420 OPS over a month of a play.  However, over the last 8 games he has been 16 -34 and was the entire offense with a 3 run HR last night (and it was a good AB).  I had a feeling we may lose the game when we stranded 5 runner in the 7th and 8th innings but Shreve, who has really been outstanding this year, holding opposing batters to a batting average of .172 and an OPS of .516, struck out the side, Wilson got 2 outs with a walk and Betances went the final 4 outs for his 5th save to win 3-2.    Betances still has not been able to spot his fastball well, but his breaking ball was sharp (after the other night where he was throwing spinners) and he threw enough fastballs to keep the batters off balance.  BTW, Tex made a heads up play on an easy grounder down the line by making sure he charged it and got it in fair territory.  Tex also made a good catch going back on a popup.  It was not that hard, but he did get a great jump on it which enabled the play to be easier.

A couple of other comments:

  • ·       Girardi has still yet to try a suicide squeeze (or safety) in his time as manager.  At some point he needs to add that to his repertoire…if nothing other than to get the thought in opposing teams’ minds.  There have been dozens of times where it would have made sense.
  • ·      It was great to see Nova pitch well.  I have always been a fan and with him, Tanaka, Warren, Pineda and Eovaldi, that is an excellent starting staff.  Note, I do not have CC in the mix if I had my way.  I would use CC out of the pen as a lefty specialist.  CC has been very tough on lefties (.458 OPS in 82 Ab’s), but righties torch him with an OPS against of .954 (274 AB’s).  These numbers are similar for last year as well where lefties had an OPS of .570 and righties .921.  This is enough for me to pull the plug and make him a lefty specialist.  CC could also fill the role as a long reliever as well (you could drop Capuano), but his value would be as a LOOGY.
  • ·       It is a shame Mason Williams hurt his shoulder as he is clearly an outstanding defender and his offense looks at least acceptable and possibly good.  In his very limited numbers, he was successful (.890 OPS).  Heathcott looked like he could belong as well.  Florez defense was solid, but he was light at the stick, but he could develop.  Either way, I was glad to see some minor league guys come up who weren’t pitchers.
  • ·       We still need help at 2nd base.  I am OK sticking with Didi as he has been a little better of late and he clearly has upside.  Pirela is a platoon guy and should start against lefties.  Drew has hit with some power and has played good defense but his overall offense is not good enough and it is hard to think he will turn it around.
  • ·       ARod is leading our team in OPS .923, with Tex behind him at .902, then Gardner at an impressive .850 (.885 if you count his SB’s) and then McCann at .810.  Those are all very good numbers!  Getting .810 out of a catcher is very helpful…I always felt that Posada was a big differentiator for us and while he was giving us a consistent .880 OPS in his prime years.  McCann is not nearly that high, but when you take the 30 starting catchers in the big leagues his OPS puts him at about 6th best.  That is good!
  • ·       Beltran is up to a .742 OPS after his terrible start.  He had an OPS of .816 in May and it is .893 in June.
  • ·       Headley has been a head scratcher this year.  He has 3 more errors so far this year than he has ever had in an entire season!  He also has been 50 OPS points below offensively where we would hope he would be.  We may have to use Brendan Ryan at 3rd base sometimes for defense if this continues as he has killed us this year.  I think it is a fluke, but he just has been bad defensively.
  • ·       4 teams within a game of 1st place…only Boston is “out of it.”  I have said since the beginning, I still think Toronto is our biggest threat, but it seems Baltimore and Tampa don’t agree with me.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keep The Brooms Out!

After blowing up in the first inning and then cruising to a victory on Saturday, it looked like the Angels would turn the table on us in the first inning.  After a terrible pitch selection where Murphy and CC somehow thought it would make sense to throw a 3-2 fastball on the inside part of the plate to Trout (right after throwing a fastball further inside for a ball on the previous pitch), CC followed up with a hanging breaking ball to Pujols for back to back jacks.  To clarify my statement on terrible pitch/location selection, I will offer the following.  On 2-2 they decided to try and throw a fastball inside to Trout.  I have no issue with this; in fact, it was a good pitch that was just off the plate inside.  The issue I had was now on 3-2 they called the same pitch, just easier to hit, for a strike and CC would have hit Murphy’s glove if that pesky bat didn’t crush the ball first.  I do not like having to make the same pitch better, the best way to work is making the pitches just a little worse.  In this case, the pitch should have been the slider that looked like it was over the middle of the plate, but dropped down and in.  All the Yankees did was get Trout aware of the pitch inside and then gave him an easier one.  When I saw them lining up inside I made a comment to my brother (we watched the game together) as I assumed it would be a slider…bad decision that cost us a run.

CC made a lot of bad pitches in the 1st inning, but got away with only 2 runs.

The Yankees went to work after playing small ball for a run (double by Pirela, and 2 productive outs), but getting a HR by Young (about time) and a huge 3 run HR by Gardner right after I proclaimed to my brother, this is a huge pitch in the game.  It was a 2-0 pitch that Wilson wanted outside, but he got it inside and Gardner just jumped on it getting the barrel out and lined a huge 3 run HR. 

Wilson bridged the gap for us in the 7th and Betances and Miller K’d 5 of the last 6 batters for victory.  (BMW – Betances Miller Win)

Back to back sweeps, 1.5 game lead over Tampa and 4.5 over Toronto (who I felt would be the biggest hurdle at the start of the year)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friday 6-5-15

Friday night was an odd game.  We faced the slop throwing righty or “crafty righty” Jeff Weaver.  Drew and Tex were able to sneak a few homers over the short porch to give us a 4 run lead and we tacked on a few runs to get us to an 8-1 lead entering the 9th.  The one run Anaheim scored was when Eovaldi, who was pitching very well, ran out of gas in the 6th inning, uncharacteristically walking the bases loaded.  Girardi correctly pulled him and Shreve did another nice job allowing one run on a weak grounder and then after a 3-2 walk, he struck out Aybar to end the threat.  After Shreve got through the 7th and Lindgren got through the 8th, Girardi correctly went to Rogers IMO, but incorrectly moved Pirela to 2nd while giving Tex rest for the final inning…moving Drew to 3rd and Headley to 1B.  Now in an 8-1 game it probably doesn’t matter, but one inning to get Pirela lose and moving Headley to 1B seemed like a waste to me…and truth be told, it made no difference defensively as Pirela had one play and he made it, but the inning unraveled and it could have mattered.  Rogers was horrific.  He allowed a single, double, infield single, wild pitch, walk and a single before Girardi went to Betances.  I can’t blame Joe for leaving in Rogers that long with such a lead.  Now the score was still only 8-3, but the tying run is on deck (making this a save situation and a very easy one at that).  Betances could not find the strike zone, allowing a single, and 2 walks which made our lead 8-6 with bases loaded and nobody out!

I did not track all the pitches, but I did not like the pitch selection as I thought we threw far too many breaking balls.  My take was he controlled the fastball better (not well, but better) and the batters seeing him have less control would lay off any breaking ball and only swing at the fastball.  This appeared to be the Angels strategy as well.  However, what makes pitch selection so interesting; is that the other side of the coin is that if Betances could throw a breaking ball for a strike he would get an easy “taken” strike.   While the McCann Betances strategy hurt us to get us to 8-6, it started to pay off as we struck out Niewenhuis on a 2-2 pitch.  Then Betances fell behind 3-1 before getting a grounder to SS that Didi made a diving stop and got the force out at 2nd (huge play/pitch on a 3-1 count in that spot considering Betances had thrown a lot of pitches and control was shabby).  Carlos Perez was sent up to pinch hit with the score 8-7 (1st and 3rd).   Betances threw a breaking ball for a strike, then two breaking balls for balls, then another breaking ball for a swinging strike before throwing his 5th breaking ball in a row to strike out Perez swinging on Dellins' 33rd pitch…Whew!!!

1st inning, Didi made an outstanding dive going up the middle showing range that way we have not seen in a decade to get an out.  While Didi did boot his 8th error later, it was not horrible as the runner went right in front of him and his footwork was off as he might have been thinking of getting the runner at 3rd.  It was not a good play, but I think Didi is starting to play the game like most thought he would.

Drew hit 2 homers in the game and as awful as he has been at the plate, had been very solid in the field.  Maybe this is his turning point?  Doubtful, but he did raise his OPS 46 points to a still anemic .583.    With Ellsbury out and Flores really giving us another out at the plate (so far) we need someone to step up.

Gardner was on 1st against Weaver who throws slow and allows a lot of SB’s and it took Gardner 4 or 5 pitches to go and easily get the SB.  He is blazing fast, but he clearly does not have base stealing skill.  The AB could have been over waiting so many pitches.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sweeping in Seattle

Tanaka looked excellent tonight!  He had command of all of his pitches and he used the entire strike zone.  I felt like you could randomly choose a pitch at any time to any batter and he would deliver the pitch pretty close to wear he wanted it.  The impressive thing about Tanaka is that he seems to make adjustments with his pitches and the speeds he throws them.  He will run his fastball at 91 and then throw a 95 MPH fastball but he can still get movement on it.  He also will mix up his splitters speed much like a knuckleballer can change speeds.  On an 80 pitch limit he got us through 7 innings without a walk while striking out 9!  VERY encouraging.

The Yankees offense was Tex hitting his 16th and Jones giving us back to back homers as he hit a 2 run HR on a fastball that was supposed to be outside but their pitcher missed badly and got it more inside.  Good job by Jones supplying most of our offense the last two nights.

Girardi almost messed up this game in the 8th.  For some reason he brought in Capuano.  Capuano only allowed a single and struck out a guy, but I didn’t understand the thought process at all.  It was as if the plan was to go to Capuano when Tanaka came out in the 6th inning (or so) and then Girardi just stuck with the plan.   My take is Capuano has no business being in a 3-1 game in the 8th inning, unless you are desperate to get a lefty out.     Joe then went to Miller to get 5 outs after a shaky outing last night.  Now, I am OK with this, but it makes me think back to what I wrote two nights ago and why in the world was Betances in the 8th inning of a 7-2 game???  Because of that stupidity, Miller was called on to extend himself.  He really struggled finding the strike zone, especially with his breaking ball or his 97 MPH fastball.  In fact, Miller had to throw 94 MPH just to throw strikes.  First, Miller hit Weeks on his slider, and then he walked Zunino on 4 pitches to load the bases with 1 out.  He then fell behind Morrison 3-0 before just getting a 94 MPH fastball for a strike.  On 3-1 he gave Morrison a very hittable fastball and we were fortunate he swung through it to make the count full.  Miller then threw his slider and Morrison swung at ball 4 for the 2nd out.  Miller then pitched ahead of Austin Jackson and got him to ground to 3rd and escape the bases loaded one out jam.  He looked good in the 9th allowing a 2 strike hit through the shift but ended the inning on his 35th pitch.   

JR Murphy is 1-9 on this west coast trip and has looked awful.  He has swung at some awful pitches.  If McCann is out for any time we need JR to get his strike zone fixed quickly.  McCann will have an MRI tomorrow I believe?

I was a little surprised they designated Carpenter for assignment.  I know he has not pitched well, but only having two righties doesn’t make sense and is Lindgren that much better.  Carpenter throws 96 so you have something to work with and while he is 29, he was extremely good 2 years ago with Atlanta and was respectable last year.  I didn’t like his command and I am sure that is what the Yankees saw as well, but I would have more confidence in him then some of the guys we have? 

Didi made an outstanding dive to his right (up the middle because he was shifted to the right side of 2nd base) and made a good throw to first.  Headley also made an excellent diving stop to his left.

Nice sweep!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tuesday Night's Game

There is a lot to write about in last night’s game...buckle up...

The ump behind home plate did not have a good game; probably a little more against us than for us, but just not consistent.  The Seattle coach (Lloyd McClendon who went to Valpo and was there as a catcher before me) got thrown out after two check swing calls.  The first was when Gardner tried to check his swing but went a little too far, but the 3rd base umpire didn’t think so.  What made it look bad was Gardner took a step toward the bench thinking he would get called out.  It was a dumb move by Gardner and I have no idea why he would have “given up” when it was not without question.  Anyway, the Seattle bench was pissed and later when ARod clearly held up on a check swing and walked McClendon flipped out and he and the catcher got tossed. 

Gardner later in the game thought there were three outs on a fly to CF and runners on 1st and 2nd.  It didn’t hurt us as the runner would have tagged anyway and the runner from first did not advance to 2nd, but get your head in the game Gardner.  I don’t know Brett, but he doesn’t have great baseball smarts…probably why he can’t read pitchers well when stealing.  A guy with his speed should steal 40 bases in his sleep and probably 50+.

CC still needs more than 6 MPH drop on his changeup.  I can’t believe this adjustment has not been made yet?  The opposing rookie had 10 MPH and their closer has closer to 12.  I think that is a little too much but it is an outstanding change Rodney has.  8-10 is ideal for me in most cases.  A good example of not enough off the change occurred when CC spotted his change well on the outside corner to a righty and he was a little out in front but hit it solid enough to get through the hole.  The way the batter turned over on an outside pitch it should have been a slow grounder and an easy play.  A few MPH less and that is off the end of the bat.

The Yanks left 2nd and 3rd two outs as Headley got out and then in the bottom of the inning Seattle did the same thing.  In the Seattle inning, I have no idea why the Yanks would throw Cano back to back fastballs on the inner half of the plate when he was waving at breaking balls?  More on this later…but this led to a run as Cruz singled in a run.

CC got ticked off when Seager tried to bunt against him with 1st and 3rd and 2 outs.  CC made the easy play but was all fired up.  I have no idea why he is pissed off.  CC is a horrible and lazy fielder so they should try and take advantage of it.  The only surprise was he bunted down 3rd and CC falls that way so he did CC a favor. 

In a huge spot Headley committed another error on what could have been a DP, he stepped back and caught an in between hop and he should have charged it.  He is known as a good fielder, but he has struggled a lot for us this year. 

Tex was called out on what should have been ball 4…the pitch was low and probably inside too…bad call.

CC was pulled for Carpenter in the bottom of the 6th inning with 2 outs and 1st and 3rd.  I don’t have any faith in CC so I was Ok with the move.  Carpenter isn’t trust worthy either though and allowed a single to break the tie and give Seattle a 2-1 lead.  He got the next guy out to end the inning though.  Carpenter throws hard but he needs his breaking pitches to be better.  He threw 4-5 sliders and none were close enough to even be offered at and when he came back with the fastball he allowed the single.

The top of the 7th saw a huge opportunity literally slip away as Gregorius lined a single leading off and then we got a break when JR Murphy blooped a single to RC, however coming around 2nd base, Didi lost his footing and got tagged out.  Instead of 1st and 3rd nobody out in a key spot in the game we had man on 1st with 1 out and we didn’t score.  It looked to me as Didi spent too much time looking at the fielder and got too close to 2nd base and then took the turn very wide (instead of cutting the base) and then tried to cut it sharp on the dirt and lost his footing.  Next time he should pick up the 3rd base coach.    Didi has been better of late with a .727 OPS over his last 14 days which is much better than his .560 OPS prior.

Shreve did a good job in the bottom of the 7th feeding Cano breaking balls and striking him out.  He did get away with a fastball that Cruz just missed as he left it out over the plate but then followed up with a changeup that worked perfectly to strike him out.  Just so you don’t think I am second guessing all the time, I hated the fastball call as I felt that the change could get Cruz, but it worked out.

Lindgren pitched in 8th.  His fastball has some sink too it but I was not impressed.  He threw so many balls and he was fortunate they swing at a lot of balls.  His command will need to get much better to effective.  That being said, even after not fielding a throw he should have from Tex that only a tiny bit behind him, he didn’t allow a run against the weak bottom of the Seattle batting order.

We entered the 9th down by one and Headley was smart against Rodney taking a pitch and ended up not swinging at all and walking on 6 pitches.  Now Beltran came up against Rodney (who has had control issues this year) and swung at a first pitch changeup and flew out.  This ticked me off.  I could see swinging at a first pitch fastball in a zone, but an outside changeup was very undisciplined and as you know I like to work the counts and occasionally jump on a first pitch.  After Didi struck out on 3 changeups we were down to our final out.  Girardi correctly went to McCann who kept us alive with a single the other way (McCann seems to be the only player who tries to beta the shift).  Now we had Drew up with the game on the line.  The only guy on the bench is the rookie Flores so I understood leaving in the terribly disappointing Drew.  After getting an outside pitch that should have been called a strike and then taking another strike we were down to our final strike.  They wanted a fastball outside (and for a ball), but Rodney missed terribly and came inside with a fastball that drew ripped down the line for a game tying double!  Gardner could now give us the lead, but he grounded out to SS

Betances walked the leadoff hitter on a pitch that was better than the 3-0 strike and it was a strike.  But he was able to K the pinch hitter and then after a bunch of breaking balls threw a 99 and 98 MPH fastball above the letters to Cano who swung through them for another K.  He then got the dangerous Cruz to send us into extra innings. 

Jones led off with a single and after ARod popped out to LF (he didn’t swing well last night) and a walk to Tex, Headley came up.  Headley hit a bullet to the first baseman who was going to try and go to 2nd but couldn’t get a handle on the ball and when he turned back to first their pitcher had started to back up 3rd or home and Headley (who ran hard out of the box from the start) beat the 1st baseman to load the bases with one out.   Beltran was up with a chance to redeem himself (to me) after swinging at the first pitch last time.  This time the first two pitches were balls and then after taking a strike and fouling off a few he grounded into a DP to end the inning.  Ugh.

Wilson came in to pitch the 10th with 2 lefties out of 3 coming up and he allowed a single to LF on a good pitch (good hitting).  Weeks then popped up a bunt that Wilson did a full out dive for and then got up and threw to first on a hop to double off the runner.  Huge play and also a good play by Drew who smoothly picked up the one hop throw that was also off line.

Didi led off the 11th with a single and McCann came up against a righty.  They didn’t have the heavy shift on so the bunt was not an automatic play (it would be for me if they had the shift on), and McCann hit into a DP.  Drew singled to keep the inning going and then Gardner hit a double to LC that gave us 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Man that DP loomed large as Garrett Jones stepped to the plate as Seattle went to the lefty Beimel.  After two off speed balls, Jones was sitting on a fastball and he got one over the middle of the plate and at the knees and he deposited it over the RC fence for a 3 run dinger!!!

In came Miller who struck out Ruggiano before losing the touch on his slider and throwing a fastball to Castillo who singled to LF.  Still struggling with his slider Miller hit Jackson on what would have been ball 4 anyway.  Now with a lefty up Miller got his slider going for a 1st pitch strike and then stuck with it getting Miller to pop out for the 2nd out.  Cano was now up and I said I would get back to this earlier.  I know that the slider left Miller for one or 2 batters but he had it back in the last AB and Cano loves swinging at the first pitch.  The slider was the call.  Unfortunately they gave Cano a fastball and he singled scoring a run and cutting the lead to 2 and the 18 HR Cruz stepped to the plate as the winning run.  Two sliders had him at 1-1 before throwing 97 on the inside corner and Cruz watched it.  You could see the look was wow that was a tough pitch…especially after the sliders.  After another ball, he struck out Cruz to end the game.  WHEW

Great production from Drew and Jones giving us unlikely stars of the game!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Monday Night's Game

A battle between Pineda and King Felix turned into the Mark Teixeira show.  Tex set the stage for the game with an outstanding diving play down the line to save a double on the first batter of the game.  Tex later hit a Grand Slam helping Pineda beat Hernandez.  Pineda pitched very well before losing it in the 7th inning.  Wilson came in and threw 96/97 every pitch and got out of the jam.  For some reason Betances came into the game in the 8th with a 7-2 lead and even in the 9th after one batter got on Miller got up?  Girardi seemed to panic for some reason?

I also want to comment on a phenomenal play Didi Gregorius made at SS going to his left and snagging a ball on a full out dive which he then got up fast and threw on the fly a decent throw to Tex, who didn't stride toward the the throw and it went off his glove.  They gave the error to Didi which is absurd as Tex just missed it.  Even Flaherty made a comment that Tex should catch that in his sleep.  Outside of Tex just missing it, a large contributing factor to him missing it was because he didn't stretch toward the throw (the same issue I have been writing about).  I really don't get why his footwork is so poor over there as everything is else is really good.  BTW, one of the things Tex does great is how well he throws for a first basemen...obviously, he doesn't have to do that much.

Nice win.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Saturday and Sunday in Oakland

I want to start off with Saturday night’s game.  I know Tex hasn’t made any errors in 100 games (that is excellent) and he didn’t make any on Saturday, but did anyone notice how he once again fell while catching a ball to his right without stepping that way.  He made the catch, which was not hard, but he didn’t stretch toward the ball or even step toward it.  It was like he stretched too soon yet still made the play.  It is very odd. 

It was nice to see us get a lead and then ride the BMW (Betances, Miller, Win).  The Twin Towers ™ have been great.

Sunday was one of those times where we had a lot of hits early on and couldn’t cash in and then did nothing.  The key AB was with 2 guys on base and one out, Tex had a 3-0 count on him.  I am not sure if he had the green light but the pitcher (Chavez) made a nice pitch up and in for a strike.  He then painted the outside corner with a fastball and Tex did a good job of not swinging at it as I am sure he was zoning a pitch to do some damage with.  Chavez then threw another perfect pitch on the outside edge and Tex swung through it.  He had a good swing but just missed it.  Beltran then got out and that ended the inning and a huge opportunity.

The game was scoreless until Vogt took a pretty good inside pitch from Warren and muscled it up and over the RF fence.  He didn’t crush it but he had underspin on it (which gave it carry) and the wind was blowing out to RF and it kept going.  With the game still only a 2 run game Girardi went to Rodgers somewhat inexplicably with 2 lefties, a switch and a lefty coming up (which is 4 lefties).  Rodgers OPS against lefties is .985 and against righties it is .679.  Rodgers has not been pitching well, but he has been awful against lefties.  He did get the first batter out and I thought maybe he will get through it, but then allowed 2 hits before coming out of the game to bring in a lefty (a little late Joe?) who allowed a sac fly to make the score 3-0.

Tex made a nice play on a line drive that he immediately turned and tagged the runner out before he could get back to the bag.  The catch was not so hard, but his awareness to quickly tag the runner was a heads up play.  BTW, the runner (Butler) did everything correctly to get back to the bag, it was just unlucky.  I say that because Didi got doubled off on a very bad baserunning play on a line drive to 2nd that he took a few steps before stopping and couldn’t get back in time.